DRC prisoners freed to solve political crisis
From JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – RIGHTS groups have dismissed as a pretense the mass release of prisoners by the Democratic Republic of Congo government after opposition leaders remained behind bars.
Their release is part of dialogue aimed at ending political crises.
Last Friday, the administration of President Joseph Kabila announced the freeing of over 170 prisoners in response to demands from opposition parties as a prerequisite to their involvement in the dialogue.
The Justice ministry announced the release of the inmates that had been arrested during a crackdown on opposition members.
Concern has been raised Huit Mulongo, a key member of former Katanga Governor and opposition leader, Moise Katumbi, has not been listed among prisoners to be released.
Government has insisted on his detention arguing he was not a political prisoner, having been sentenced to three years imprisonment for possession of arms.
Opposition believe the charges are trumped up.
Human Rights Watch reported more than 20 opposition leaders remained in detention despite the pledge by government to release them.
The DRC is characterized by tensions over elections set for November but increasingly unlikely to be held.
Opposition accuse Kabila of masterminding ploys to maintain a grip of the country of over 68 million people. In 2015 major protests broke out across the country and protesters demanded that Kabila steps down.
– CAJ News
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