Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila’s ruling coalition has named former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as its candidate for the December presidential election, putting an end to years of speculation on whether the incumbent would defy term limits and run for a third term.

The announcement was made by spokesperson Lambert Mende at a news conference this afternoon.

The selection of Ramazani, however, represents a defiant move by Kabila.

A former interior minister, he is under European Union sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, including deadly crackdowns by security forces on protesters.

However, the announcement that Kabila will not run again will ease fears in the region and beyond.

Analysts say a Kabila candidacy would have dragged the country back into the civil wars of the turn of the century in which millions died, mostly from hunger and disease.

The December 23 vote should now herald DRC’s first democratic transition of power following decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups and deadly conflict.

Mende said Ramazani was on his way to the electoral commission headquarters in the capital Kinshasa to file his candidacy.

Several opposition candidates, including former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and the president of Congo’s largest opposition party Felix Tshisekedi, have also registered to run.