The Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctor worked with victims of rape and brought attention to role of sexual violence during conflicts.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Denis Mukwege, a doctor who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on sexual violence in warfare, has said he will seek the presidency.
The 68-year-old Mukwege made the announcement before a crowd of supporters in the DRC capital of Kinshasa on Monday, challenging current President Felix Tshisekedi in the upcoming December elections.
“I agree to be your candidate for president of the republic,” he stated, adding that he would focus on issues such as insecurity and political leadership.
Mukwege, a surgical gynaecologist who jointly won the Nobel Prize in 2018 with Yazidi activist Nadia Murad for their efforts to combat the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, now hopes to confront problems facing the DRC.
The doctor founded Panzi Hospital in eastern DRC during a period of brutal conflict in 1999, treating hundreds of victims of rape and bearing witness to the injuries and diseases inflicted on them.
Today, the Central African nation faces deteriorating security, with numerous militia groups, including one known as M23, fighting for control of territory in the country’s eastern regions.
President Tshisekedi has struggled to contain the violence during his first term in office, and hastened the withdrawal of a United Nations peacekeeping force in September amid complaints about its ineffectiveness and lack of popularity.
A month earlier, the country’s military came under heavy criticism for using lethal force against a planned protest against the UN force, in a harsh crackdown that killed 56 people.
In a press release last month, Mukwege said he was “deeply outraged by the shocking images of the massacre” and called for “far-reaching reform” to professionalise the country’s security services.
Debate over issues such as security and economic hardship have become more acute as the country approaches parliamentary and presidential elections, scheduled to take place on December 20.
Opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who came in second behind Tshisekedi in the 2018 elections, also announced over the weekend that he will mount a bid for the presidency.