Former Speaker, National Assembly
Date of Birth: 04/03/1959
Place of Birth: Bukavu, South Kivu
As first-round elections approach on 27 November 2011, Joseph Kabila’s former ally is emerging as a challenger to the President. Taking his cue from other parties in the region, Vital Kamerhe will use his opposition to China’s US$6 billion ore-for-infrastructure contract as a major plank of his campaign. Although he backed the deal at the time of its signing, he now says that the terms are unfair to the Congolese side.
Kamerhe hails from Bukavu in South Kivu, where President Kabila’s support is strongest, and was formerly a trusted comrade. He led the 2003 peace process that brought warring factions into a transitional government under Kabila. He served then as Minister of Information and later supported Kabila’s presidential bid in the 2006 multiparty elections. Kamerhe was Secretary General of Kabila’s Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD) and Speaker of the National Assembly from December 2006.
After he publicly attacked Kabila’s 2009 decision to allow Rwandan soldiers to carry out joint operations with the national army in Congo against Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda rebels, PPRD politicians called for his resignation and he stepped down in March 2009.
Now Kamerhe hopes to be selected as presidential candidate of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo, whose leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, is awaiting trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity. In the interim, he has launched the Union pour la Nation Congolaise as a standby.