DRC: Former Tshisekedi ally held for 'insulting the President'

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The former head of the presidential party in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who recently switched to the opposition, was arrested Tuesday in Kinshasa and transferred to prison in connection with proceedings for contempt of the head of state, a judicial source said.

MP and former vice-president of the National Assembly "Jean-Marc Kabund has been placed under provisional arrest warrant" in Makala prison in the capital, after an interrogation, a magistrate of the prosecutor's office near the Court of Cassation told AFP.

According to the prosecutor's statement, consulted by AFP, Mr. Kabund is prosecuted for "insulting the head of state, damaging imputations and defamation".

Elected in Kinshasa, Jean-Marc Kabund joined the opposition in July after being expelled from the presidential party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), and resigning from his position as first vice president of the Congolese National Assembly.

At the time of the announcement of the creation of his own political party, "Alliance for Change", Mr. Kabund had castigated the "lack of clear vision", "notorious incompetence and institutionalized mismanagement characterized by carelessness, irresponsibility, enjoyment and predation at the top of the state" by the camp of President Felix Tshisekedi.

"When I speak of embezzlement (...) these are hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, placed in tax havens, placed in multinationals, these are cash that leaves the country in private jets," he said in an interview with the French radio RFI.

Kabund also had harsh words for the houses of parliament. Under Tshisekedi, "parliament (has become) a place for dealing with irrelevant issues and theaters for political clowns," he said.

His arrest came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Kinshasa, where he met with Tshisekedi. In the DRC, voices are increasingly raised to denounce the arrest of opponents in the country.

Blinken "should denounce the escalating repression against activists, demonstrators and journalists, and warn against the growing intolerance of critics," said activist Floribert Anzuluni of the pro-democracy movement Filimbi.

For Anzuluni, this trend of the regime in power since January 2019 in the DRC "risks compromising the holding of free, credible and timely elections in 2023."

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