The Democratic Republic of Congo is reportedly mulling a controversial law in order to prevent a candidate of Jewish descent from running for President.
Lawmakers loyal to the incumbent President Felix Tshiseked have introduced a bill to the African nation’s Parliament that would restrict the Presidency to candidates with two Congolese parents in a move believed to be intended to try to prevent the popular Moise Katumbi from running for the office.
Mr Katumbi’s father, Nissim Soriano, was a Greek Sephardi Jew who fled Rhodes during the Holocaust and settled in the Katanga province of the Congo, where he married a granddaughter of the local King Msiri, Mr Katumbi’s mother. Mr Soriano later emigrated to Israel, where he lived until his death and was buried. Mr Katumbi reportedly often visits relatives in Israel.
Mr Katumbi, a former regional Governor of Katanga and one of the country’s most popular politicians, has previously stated his intention to run for President, and last month secured a political pact with a former rival, paving the way for him to do so.
According to Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, Mr Katumbi does not identify as Jewish “but he has a warm connection to Judaism and Israel.” He frequently refers to his Jewish roots in speeches, including calling himself “the Moses of Katanga, back to lead his people”, in a play on his first name, which means Moses.
The bill, which has not yet been scheduled for a vote, has reportedly already angered Mr Katumbi’s supporters and raised concerns about renewed instability in the volatile country, where secessionist tendencies are already particularly strong in Katanga, the most mineral-rich of the nation’s regions.