Congo Ruling Coalition to Name Presidential Candidate Today

(Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo’s ruling coalition will announce the name of its candidate to run in this year’s presidential elections by today, the final day of registration, Information Minister Lambert Mende said.

Officials from the ruling Common Front for Congo met for about two hours on Tuesday at President Joseph Kabila’s farm outside the capital, Kinshasa, to discuss who would will run for office in the vote set for Dec. 23. Consultations between the president and his coalition have been ongoing for 10 days, while the name of the nominee -- if already selected -- has been a closely guarded secret.

The candidate’s identity will be announced “in the coming hours,” Mende said after the meeting. Wednesday is the deadline for presidential aspirants to file their candidacy with the electoral commission.

Elections were supposed to be held in 2016, but were postponed because of the electoral commission’s failure to organize them. While the constitution bars Kabila from seeking a third term, he’s yet to say whether he’ll be a candidate. Attempting to extend his 17-year rule risks destabilizing Africa’s biggest copper and cobalt producer, which hasn’t had a peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960.

So far, three major opposition leaders -- Jean-Pierre Bemba, Vital Kamerhe and Felix Tshisekedi -- have registered to contest the presidential election. Another, Moise Katumbi, says Kabila is preventing him from returning to Congo and filing his papers.

The four men have said they may unite behind a single candidate to take on the nominee of Kabila’s coalition.

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