Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize and candidate in the December 20 presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, held his first major campaign rally on Saturday (November 25th) in his hometown of Bukavu, in the east of this large Central African country.

Addressing a crowd of thousands of supporters gathered in the Independence Square of the provincial capital of South Kivu, the 68-year-old gynaecologist vowed to fight corruption and "end the war, end the famine" if he won, an AFP journalist said.

"Today, it's normal to steal from Congo, it's normal to corrupt," the candidate said in a speech in Kiswahili.

Read alsoPresidential election in DR Congo: what are the chances of Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege?

"Giving back to the Congolese their dignity and their rights"

In 1999, Dr. Mukwege established the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu. Designed to allow women to give birth properly, the centre quickly became a "rape clinic" as the Kivu descended into the Second Congo War (1998-2003) and its mass rapes.

In 2018, "The Man Who Mends Women", his nickname inherited from a documentary dedicated to him, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yazidi Nadia Murad, for their efforts to fight against "the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war".

The doctor, who has no political base and has been slow to get started, finally announced his candidacy on 2 October, denouncing "corrupt and predatory practices" that keep the majority of Congolese in misery.

During his rally on Saturday, he pledged to "give the Congolese back their dignity, their rights", criticising the dependence of the country of some 100 million inhabitants on foreign aid, including military aid.

"At the international level, we are going to do everything we can to ensure that foreign armies leave Congolese soil. The Congolese must learn to take charge of their security," he said.

Violence by armed groups has lasted for nearly 30 years in eastern Congo, which is experiencing a peak crisis with the return to the scene of a former rebellion (the M23), supported by neighbouring Rwanda and which has seized large swathes of North Kivu.

The government of outgoing President Félix Tshisekedi, 60, who is running for re-election, has decided not to renew the mandate of a regional force deployed in the east to fight the M8 beyond 23 December.

Meanwhile, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO), which has been in operation since 1999, said on Wednesday that it had signed a plan with the government to withdraw its 14,000 peacekeepers deployed in the country, mainly in the east.

With AFP

This week's recapFrance 24 invites you to look back on the news that marked the week

Subscribe now

Take international news with you wherever you go! Download the France 24 app