Denis Mukwege, 68, is a Congolese gynecologist who founded the Panzi Hospital in the city of Bukavu, where he treats women raped by armed rebels. In 2018, he shared the Nobel Prize with human rights activist Nadia Murad, for their joint efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
DR Congo’s Denis Mukwege, a surgical gynecologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, announced Monday that he will run for president in elections scheduled for December.
During his speech to a packed auditorium in the central African nation’s capital, Kinshasa, the doctor told reporters he would run to save a country torn by insecurity.
Mukwege was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 alongside Yazidi activist Nadia Murad for efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war. The pioneering doctor 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.
Dozens of militias have ravaged eastern DRC for years, a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and 2000s. One such militia, the M23, has seized swaths of territory since launching an offensive in late 2021.
On September 16, Mukwege declared that his supporters had donated the $100,000 deposit needed to launch a run for the presidency in the DRC.
Mukwege’s speech in Kinshasa was broadcast live to two halls in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province, where his announcement drew rapturous applause. This city is the home of Mukwege’s Panzi hospital, which has specialized in treating survivors of sexual violence since opening in 1999 amid the ravages of the Second Congo War.
Although that conflict is over, militia violence continues, and Mukwege recently said the war on women’s bodies has continued apace and even extended to children. The doctor, during his many lecture tours abroad, has called for an international tribunal to adjudicate crimes in eastern DRC.
In the country’s election scheduled for December 20, Mukwege will face off against incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi, who came to power after an election in 2018. Others declared opposition candidates including Martin Fayulu, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018, and two ex-prime ministers of Tshisekedi’s predecessor Joseph Kabila, Augustin Matata as well as Adolphe Muzito. Additionally, business magnate Moise Katumbi is also expected to announce a bid.
The deadline for candidates to announce their bids is October 8.
The presidential election, which is due to be held alongside a parliamentary vote, will be a single-round poll.