DRC opposition party leader freed

2016-02-15 18:11
People displaced from their villages where ethnic clashes took place walk along a road in search of safety.  (Fiston Mahamba,  AFP)

People displaced from their villages where ethnic clashes took place walk along a road in search of safety. (Fiston Mahamba, AFP)

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Kinshasa - A military intelligence unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo freed opposition party leader Martin Fayulu after holding him for several hours ahead of a planned general strike, he said on Monday.

Fayulu, a member of parliament who heads the small Engagement for Citizenship and Development movement (ECIDE), was arrested by soldiers on Sunday in front of party members and passers-by.

He told AFP that he was "kidnapped" outside ECIDE's headquarters in northern Kinshasa by agents of the Military Detection of Anti-National Activities service (DEMIAP).

The intelligence unit still had his car, a mobile telephone whose total contents they copied, some documents, a cheque book and almost $700 in cash.

They also kept more than 1 000 leaflets calling for a general strike on Tuesday against the regime of President Joseph Kabila, who has been in office since 2001.

Under the constitution, Kabila is barred from standing in an election due to take place by the end of the year, but the opposition accuses him of seeking to delay the polls and cling to power after he made a call for "national dialogue" last November.

"They were trying to stifle the dead city [strike] day on Tuesday," Fayulu said when asked about the probable motive for his detention.

Instead "the government has given us some publicity," he added.

Fayulu said he was allowed to contact his lawyer while in custody, then he was taken home without charge at about 10:30 (21:30 GMT) after some eight hours in DEMIAP hands.

The ECIDE is part of an opposition coalition whose members signed a call for a nationwide general strike across the vast central African country on Tuesday.

On Monday, leaflets urging people to take part in the strike were circulating in several districts of Kinshasa, witnesses said.

Read more on:    democratic republic of congo  |  central africa

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