Congo’s Nobel Prize winner Mukwege stages large presidential campaign rally

Denis Mukwege, a Nobel-winning gynaecologist, staged a rally in his hometown recently, according to Agence France Press (AFP). He promised to end corruption and conflict if elected.  In the eastern city of Bukavu, the Nobel laureate doctor said he would use political power to “put an end to war, put an end to famine” and to fight graft.  “Today it is normal to steal in the Congo, it is normal to corrupt,” said 68-year-old, in Swahili.

Mukwege founded the Panzi hospital and foundation in conflict-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after witnessing the horrific injuries and diseases suffered by rape victims. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 along withYazidi activist Nadia Murad for efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war.

The DRC,  a Central African nation of about 100 million people, is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on December 20. It has been the target of a genocidal level of attacks and infighting over its fabulous mineral wealth.

In his speech Mukwege declared: “During my five-year term of office, [I am going] to give the Congolese people back their dignity, their rights. Internationally, we are going to do everything we can to ensure that foreign armies leave Congolese soil, and that the Congolese people learn to take responsibility for their own security.” Dozens of armed groups operate in eastern DRC, a legacy of regional wars that flared during the 1990s and 2000s.

One such group, the M23, according to AFP, has seized territory in the region since launching an offensive in late 2021, triggering a vast humanitarian crisis with over one million people driven from their homes. Many foreign military forces, including UN peacekeepers of various nationalities, and troops deployed in the East African Community, especially from Uganda, also occupy eastern Congo. This is a legacy of the genocidal European colonialism, in which Congo was a personal “belonging” of the King of Belgium, and later US efforts to control and subvert its efforts at independence, including the killing of Patrice Lumumba, and the neo-colonial imposition of the looting dictator Mobutu.

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