DRC opposition leader jailed for insulting Kabila

2014-09-12 07:56
Joseph Kabila (File: AFP)

Joseph Kabila (File: AFP)

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Kinshasa - A senior opposition lawmaker in the Democratic Republic of Congo was sentenced on Thursday to one year in prison for insulting the country's president and government, one of his lawyers said.

"The Supreme court Thursday evening sentenced Jean-Bertrand Ewanga to one year in person for offending the head of state, members of the government and parliament," said Richard Mpinda, who called the trial "a parody of justice".

Ewanga, the general secretary of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) party, was arrested on 5 August at his home in Kinshasa, a day after a rally to oppose any extension of presidential terms.

Thousands of people had demonstrated in the capital to protest over suspicions that the rulers of the vast central African country intend to amend the constitution and enable President Joseph Kabila to stay in power beyond 2016, when he is due to step down after two five-year elected terms.

Democratic polls

During the rally, Ewanga had declared that "for us, he [Kabila] must go" by 2016, when presidential polls are due. "We say 'No' to an amendment of the constitution."

Ewanga had been charged with inciting hatred, tribalism and contempt of the supreme magistrature, according to prosecution sources.

Kabila, a young soldier, was first rushed into office in 2001 by Kinshasa politicians after the assassination of his rebel-turned-president father Laurent-Desire Kabila by a bodyguard during wartime.

A large United Nations mission helped end the conflict and in 2006 played a major part in organising the first democratic polls in the former Zaire, which were broadly declared free and fair.

Five years later, however, fresh elections took place in very different circumstances and sparked an outbreak of serious violence as the opposition cried massive fraud.

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

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