|Kamerhe is expected to draw a lot of support from those unwilling to vote for Kabila or Tshisekedi [EPA]|
Vital Kamerhe might not be tipped to win the elections, though he is expected to draw a lot of support from voters disgruntled with Joseph Kabila but distrustful of the alternative offered by Tshisekedi.
Some also see potential in Kamerhe after a series of bold criticisms of the Kabila administration over the past five years.
Kamerhe started his political career in 1984 with the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and held a series of political posts during the final years of the Mobuto regime, including roles in the ministries of environment and higher education and the prime minister’s cabinet.
He also worked under Laurent Kabila following the toppling of Mobuto in 1997, finally becoming the deputy commissioner in charge of MONUC – the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC – affairs in 1998.
Kamerhe co-founded the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) in 2002 and became one of the leading figures in securing the ceasefire in 2002.
As the commissioner general of the government in charge of the peace process in the Great Lakes region;, he earned the nickname ‘the peacemaker’.
Kamerhe organised Joseph Kabila’s election campaign in 2006 before being elected president of the national assembly in 2006.
But after criticising joint military actions between the Congolese and Rwandan military against Hutu armed groups in the country in January 2009, Kamerhe was forced to resign, ending his long alliance with Kabila.
Kamerhe attempted to create a dissident faction within the presidential AMP coalition but formally left the PPRD party and created his own party, the UNC, in late 2010, in a bid to contest this month’s presidential elections.
Kamerhe is expected to win pockets of support in both the west and the eastern provinces, and from very specific sections of the electorate but is considered unlikely to win enough support to present a significant threat to Tshisekedi or Kabila.