There’s been much speculation on when and how Moïse Katumbi, the exiled Congolese political leader who announced a presidential run in March, will return to the country.
Katumbi, the candidate of the “Together for Change” coalition challenging Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, has said he will return home by June but late last month shifted the timeline, tying it to evidence and an assurance that long-delayed elections will move forward in December as planned.
On Sunday, the former governor of Katanga told Le Soir in Belgium that Kabila remains afraid of him. It’s a claim he’s made before, telling the BBC in March that his return means the end of Kabila’s mandate.
Yet Katumbi has yet to arrive in Kinshasa; there’s a newly announced campaign rally planned for June 2, but no clarity on whether he’ll be there or not. Meanwhile, Congolese communications minister Lambert Mende said Friday that Katumbi is currently not considered to be a citizen of DR Congo.
“The facts are clear,” Mende said in an interview. “When you contract another nationality, as is the case with Mr. Katumbi, you lose your Congolese nationality whether you are native or not.” Katumbi held Italian citizenship from 2000 to 2017, which the Congolese government says would make him ineligible for office. Mende said officials have received no request from Katumbi to “reinstate” his citizenship.