Martin Fayulu: The DR Congo election candidate who refuses to give up


In certain circles, the name Martin Fayulu has become synonymous with tenacity—a refusal to give up. As one of the leading opposition candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election on 20 December, he maintains that he won the race five years ago. Emblematic of the 67-year-old’s unwavering attitude is his biography on X, which declares him the country’s “president-elect.” His campaign posters show him tapping his wristwatch, announcing, “Now’s the time.”

After the 2018 election, Mr. Fayulu, a former oil company executive, was among those who questioned the victory of Félix Tshisekedi, who is now running for a second term. The influential Catholic Church, which had a large monitoring team, stated that the results did not correspond with its own findings. Mr. Tshisekedi had split off from the opposition coalition that had put forward Mr. Fayulu, leading to suspicions, though always denied, that he had the backing of then-President Joseph Kabila. However, as Mr. Tshisekedi’s announced victory promised the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history, many groups came to accept it. Mr. Fayulu, however, did not.

The leader of the Commitment for Citizenship and Development party (ECiDé) has persistently stuck to the message that he won. Now, he has returned to claim his prize, hoping to succeed in the crowded field of 19 challengers to the incumbent. Turning his rhetorical fire on the president, he has been uncompromising in his criticism. “Is there a single Congolese who can tell me that he lives better than in 2018? Mr. Tshisekedi has done absolutely nothing.

Mr. Fayulu first became a full-time politician in 2006 and served as an MP, although at the time, he was mostly known as a businessman. His involvement in politics started during the Sovereign National Conference in 1991, which brought together delegates from different regions, political parties, civil society organizations, and traditional leaders to campaign for multi-party democracy. Mr. Fayulu’s transition from business to politics was complete in 2006 when he was elected an MP. Before that, he had a two-decade-long career, starting in 1984, with the US oil giant Exxon Mobil, holding positions in several African states. His final posting was in Ethiopia, where he was the company’s director general.

Piers Potter


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