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Focus on Africa: 22 November 2018


Questions loom about the sanity of African opposition leaders, as a single candidate deal to unseat the Kabila regime in DR Congo collapses. And can President Buhari survive the mass defections from his APC party?

This week, we examine the complicated mathematics of opposition politics in Africa, following failed efforts by political heavyweights in the Democratic Republic of Congo to file a single candidate against President Joseph Kabila's anointed heir Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Lumumba joins ruling alliance

After Wednesday’s launch of a month-long high-tension campaign season by the country’s independent electoral Commission, the DRC’s Avenir newspaper reports about last-minute defections to the ruling Common Front for Congo (FCC) by Le Rassop/Kasa-Vubu and Laurent Lumumba, son of Congo's independence leader Patrice Lumumba, who was overthrown and assassinated in a coup in 1960.

The newspaper quotes a top FCC official Nehemie Mwilanya as saying that the new allies had grown tired after years of waiting for empty promises by the so-called “foreign interest” parties.

L’Avenir names them as the Joint 7-party opposition alliance which includes former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba, the ex-provincial governor Moise Katumbi both barred from standing in the poll and Vital Kamerhe, a former President of the National Assembly.

They all agreed at a meeting organized in Geneva by the Kofi Annan Foundation, to line up behind a single candidate Martin Fayulu. He is one of the officials of the DRC's oldest opposition parties the UDPS of late premier Etienne Tshisekedi. But the deal collapsed following, the refusal of the party's current leader and Tshisekedi's son Felix, to stand down in favour of Favula.

Vital Kamerhe has since withdrawn from the pact and is now set to announce a joint bid with Tshisekedi according to several Congolese newspapers.

According to Forum des As, the Geneva meeting was nothing more than a major plot to sabotage the elections and install a puppet who would serve the interest of foreign powers, at the helm of the country.

With experts predicting a defeat of the divided opposition in DR Congo, few expect the power mongers to learn from the lessons of their impending defeat, when the country next goes to the polls in 5 years.

Nigeria: political defections hit ruling APC

Nigeria’s papers point to a paradox taking place in the country, with Vanguard alarmed at the “gale of defections” that has hit President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressive Congress party in the build up to the 2019 general elections.

As many as 36 members of the 360-seat House of Representatives have dumped the APC to join the main opposition PDP, alongside fifteen APC senators who jumped ship hoping to be rewarded if the PDP flag-bearer and ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar wins the next election.

Punch underlines that the defectors cited “irreconcilable issues relating to the party primaries” as part of the reason for their resignations.

But the publication also claims that none of them would mention the miserable life awaiting dignitaries of the losing side when the people of Nigeria will have spoken.


Vanguard also says diehard cronies of President Muhammadu Buhari remain as confident as ever. His social media aide Lauretta Onochie, compares the party now to “an obese person who has struggled with weight issues all his life and which is now healthier and better for the nation.”

Kenyatta and Odinga: new travelling mates

In Kenya, one of the red hot issues spicing up reflections of political commentators is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s painstaking effort to create a little breathing room for main opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Daily Nation reports that for the first time since the landmark “handshake” in March, President Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga embarked on a foreign trip together. The two former arch-rivals, flew to Addis Ababa on 17 November in the presidential jet to attend the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.

Odinga was of course in Addis in his capacity as AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

But according to the Nation, despite all the hullaballoo about the complicities of the new political chums, Kenyatta’s heirs are delighted to see that “Odinga will not engage in succession politics ahead of the 2022 general election”.

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