Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - “If President Joseph Kabila wanted to rid himself of Moïse Katumbi he has succeeded, at least temporarily. Far from Congo, Katumbi, in a sort of exile, is politically out of the game ” Fides learned from the Peace for Congo network regarding charges against the main opposition candidate in presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo , Moïse Katumbi, former governor of Katanga, concerning the hiring of hundreds of foreign mercenaries in a bid to take power by force.
Charges denied by Katumbi, who said he was forced to assume private bodyguards when the police officers assigned to protect his safety were recalled after he left the Peoples Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), the principal political party of the coalition government . Four of his bodyguards were arrested on 24 April in Lubumbashi, suspected of being mercenaries at his service.
The only one released was Darryl Lewis an American citizen, while the other three are thought to be Congolese .
On May 4, Congo’s Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, said he had ordered an enquiry into charges of "recruitment of foreign mercenaries", many of American nationality, “engaged" by Moïse Katumbi. After two sessions of questioning, Moïse Katumbi was called for a third, later cancelled and then postponed to a date to be established, following clashes between the police and his supporters as they were accompanying him to the law courts. As a result of the clashes Moïse Katumbi himself had to be taken for treatment to a hospital in Lubumbashi.
In the meantime, officially charged with "attacking security forces inside and outside national territory " he has been put "under temporary house arrest".
Moïse Katumbi requested and received permission from the Procurator of the Republic to leave the Congo in order to continue medical care in a hospital in Johannesburg, in South Africa.
“Unless he wants to lose the trust and popularity acquired in recent weeks as number one adversary of president Kabila", Katumbi cannot stay in South Africa for long” the report says.
“This South African interlude will enable him not only to undergo the necessary medical care but also give him time to prepare his Court defence and outline his plan for returning to the county’s political scene and form, with the other opposition forces, , a credible alternative to the present regime” the report concluded. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 31/5/2016)