AFRICA/DR CONGO - Main opposition candidate accused of recruiting foreign mercenaries

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 elections  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The main opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moïse Katumbi, has been accused of recruiting foreign mercenaries to destabilize the Country. Katumbi was questioned yesterday, 9 May, for seven hours, by the judiciary in Lubumbashi, the capital of the former province of Katanga (which has recently been divided into 4 regions), of which he was governor for years.
On May 4 Katumbi announced that he had accepted to stand as a candidate in the presidential election (see Fides 31/03/2016), which should take place later this year, but the date has not yet been established (see Fides 06/05/2016).
Both the former governor of Katanga and the opposition denounced the investigation on the alleged recruitment of foreign mercenaries as a political maneuver on behalf of the presidential majority to delegitimize the main contender for presidency. Outgoing Head of State, Joseph Kabila, cannot candidate hemself in the presidential election, having served maximum two terms required by the Constitution.
The charges against Katumbi are also having consequences in relations with the United States. According to the indictment the majority of the alleged mercenaries hired by Katumbi are former US military. Four of Katumbi’s private bodyguards were arrested on charges of being part of the group of mercenaries; among them there is also a US citizen.
The government in Washington has decided to send a delegation in Kinshasa led by the Special Envoy of President Obama for the Great Lakes, Tom Perriello. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 10/05/2016)