31 August 2018

Congo-Kinshasa: Youths Remain Detained After Anti-Kabila Protests

Kinshasa — THE autocratic Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government is under pressure to release five youths arrested and charged for mobilising church-led protests against President Joseph Kabila last December.

They are facing charges of "insulting the president", "publication of subversive writings" and "civil disobedience."

The five - Carbone Ben, Mino Bopomi, Palmer Kabeya, Cedric Kalonji and Grace Tshiunza- are all members of one of the DRC's most vocal citizen movements, Filimbi.

They were held incommunicado at different detention centres of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) until they were charged in June in the capital Kinshasa.

Amnesty International, the rights group, is calling for charges to be dropped and the activists to be freed immediately and unconditionally.

"This charade must be brought to an end," said Jean-Mobert Senga, Amnesty International's researcher for the DRC.

"The five must be freed immediately and unconditionally and allowed to exercise their right to freedom of association and expression without harassment," Senga added.

Deadly protests have afflicted crisis-torn DRC after Kabila failed to arrange elections to choose the next president at the expiry of his term late in 2016.

It has however been confirmed he would not be available for elections when the Central African country holds its delayed polls in December.

Apart from political tensions, the country of 79 million people is beset by an Ebola crisis and militancy by rebel groups.

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