Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has appointed two senior Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party members to lead his campaign for the 20 December presidential election, ending confusion over the make-up of his team.
Jacquemain Shabani is Tshisekedi’s special adviser on the electoral process.
A lawyer, he has defended several cases, including that of South African businessman Christo Grobler, co-defendant of former prime minister Matata Ponyo Mapon, in the Bukanga Lonzo affair.
He was UDPS secretary-general from 2011-2012 and headed its Permanent Electoral Commission before he was ousted in March 2020 amid a succession battle with interim president Jean-Marc Kabund.
Acacia Bandubola, originally from Kisangani, is lesser known. She was minister for the national economy from 2019-March 2023, and worked extensively in consultancy in Europe, especially France.
“She is a young, dynamic woman who is quite popular with the party’s youth. She has a strong capacity for mobilisation,” said a presidential ally.
This duo will be joined by six members of Tshisekedi’s USN coalition, each handling a “linguistic” area.
They include UDPS secretary-general Augustin Kabuya (Kasai); Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde (Katanga); Deputy PM Jean Pierre Bemba (Equateur); Christophe Mboso (Bandundu); Vital Kamerhe and Modeste Bahati Lukwebo (Kivus). Four others will oversee Kinshasa’s districts.
Confusion arose when on 27 September François Muamba, former Mobutu-era minister, who is now heading Tshisekedi’s Presidential Strategic Intelligence Council, announced a 10-person team apparently coordinating the campaign.
This was swiftly denied by the president’s spokespeople.
“Muamba was tasked with thinking about campaign strategy, but some around the leader got him to publicly present a team. The president was very angry,” said an aide, adding some were past influencers or candidates wanting campaign funds.
Tshisekedi is among 24 approved presidential hopefuls awaiting the Constitutional Court’s final ruling on 18 November before official campaigning starts.
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