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Exiled DRC politician Moise Katumbi eyes Aug. 3 return to Lubumbashi

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Moise Katumbi, a presidential hopeful in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) plans to return to the country to participate in elections slated for December this year.

The former governor and owner of football club, TP Mazembe, has thus formally applied to the authorities to grant him rights to fly into the country aboard a private jet.

A letter sent to the civil aviation authorities date July 30th and signed by Katumbi requested that his jet flying in from South Africa – where he is currently – be allowed to land on August 3rd at the Luano airport located in the city of Lubumbashi in southeastern Congo.

It adds that on board shall be six other allies of his. There has not been any response of an official acceptance or rejection of his request. Katumbi is looking to file his candidacy for the upcoming polls. The deadline for submission is August 8.

In an interview with South African media outlets, Katumbi held that he was returning home a ‘free man’ to participate in the political process. This is the firmest indication of his return after over a year in exile.

He was flown out to South Africa in 2016 for medical treatment after police teargassed his supporters during a court appearance in Lubumbashi. He ended up in Belgium for further treatment.

Since then, he has been shuttling between Europe and Africa seeking support for a peaceful and democratic transition in the Congo.

Incumbent Kabila’s mandate expired in December 2016 but he continues in office since polls for his successor has yet to be held. Kinshasa has used lack of a credible voters register and security concerns as basis for the postponements.

The current date is the surest bet that a poll will be held amid mounting pressure from continental and international bodies. Kabila has as yet to declare whether he is leaving or will tinker with the laws in order to contest.

Katumbi has also congratulated former vice-president and opposition leader Jean Pierre Bemba who returned home to a rapturous welcome. He was only recently discharged of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

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