Former Exxon Manager Leads Congo Opposition Presidency Bid

(Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition leaders chose Martin Fayulu as their candidate for next month’s presidential election.

The opposition had been expected to select from two better-known politicians: Felix Tshisekedi, head of the biggest opposition party, or Vital Kamerhe, who finished third in the last vote in 2011. Fayulu will face President Joseph Kabila’s anointed successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, in the Dec. 23 race to lead the world’s largest cobalt producer.

Fayulu, who spent almost two decades at Exxon Mobil Corp., was chosen because he’s the least-polarizing of all the opposition candidates, said Mvemba Dizolele, a lecturer at the Washington D.C.-based John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He was nominated Sunday by a majority vote at talks between seven opposition heads who last month agreed to field a single candidate to maximize their chances of defeating Shadary.

“He’s a consensus choice to be sure,” Dizolele said. Fayulu has “a solid track record of fighting for democratic change” dating back to the days of Mobutu Sese Seko’s three-decade dictatorship that ended in 1997, Dizolele said.

Fayulu, 61, has earned a reputation for being at the front line of anti-government rallies that in recent years have often been violently dispersed. He was injured when a teargas canister hit him on the head in September 2016 during protests in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, in which the United Nations said security forces killed more than 50 people.