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Activists demand freedom for jailed Kabila critics

Story from: CAJ News Africa

kabilaFrom JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – RIGHTS groups are demanding the release of human rights and pro-democracy activists arrested for opposing President Joseph Kabila’s continued stay in power in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nine activists were arrested in Mbuji-Mayi in the troubled Kasai region and the second capital Lubumbashi in July.
The nine activists are among hundreds arrested since 2015 as part of the government’s widespread crackdown on people who have opposed Kabila’s effort to remain in power beyond his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ended in December 2016.
Government has also targeted political opposition leaders and supporters,journalists, and people suspected of having links to the political opposition.
Many have been held for weeks or months in secret detention, without charge and without access to families or lawyers.
Some allege that they were mistreated or tortured and some are suffering serious health complications. Many were put on trial on trumped-up charges.
This has coincided with clashes between the army and rebel groups demanding Kabila’s resignation.
Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said government should release the activists immediately.
“The government must ensure that all Congolese have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express their political views.”
Former army general Kabila assumed office after the assassination of his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, in 2001.
He was elected as President in 2006 and re-elected in 2011.
He is barred from contesting in the next poll likely to be held in 2018.
CAJ News

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