Nobel laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege has announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mukwege, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in for his work fighting sexual violence, made the announcement to a jubilant crowd of supporters at a conference center in the capital Kinshasa. Nicknamed the “man who repairs women,” the-year-old doctor has treated hundreds of war rape victims at the Panzi Hospital he founded in conflict-ridden east Congo in .
Mukwege will be running against President Felix Tshisekedi, whose first term was mired by economic hardship, epidemics, and worsening insecurity in the east, where the M23 rebel group launched a major offensive last year. Opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who came second to Tshisekedi in the last vote in , has also announced his candidacy.
Mukwege’s work has been dangerous, and in , he and his family were held at gunpoint and threatened with death by armed men in his home. Despite the risks, he has continued to advocate for women’s rights and has become one of the world’s leading experts on the treatment of internal injuries suffered by women subjected to gang rape. His hospital has so far treated more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence.
If elected, Mukwege would face significant challenges in addressing the country’s ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises. The DRC has been plagued by violence and instability for decades, with numerous armed groups operating in the east of the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has also hit the country hard, with a surge in cases in recent months.
Mukwege’s candidacy has been met with enthusiasm by many, who see him as a symbol of hope and change in a country that has long been plagued by violence and corruption. However, he will face significant obstacles in his bid for the presidency, including opposition from powerful political and military figures.