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Sun Oct 23 09:48:27 CAT 2016

Congo opposition leader arrested over deadly anti-government protests

REUTERS | 10 October, 2016 12:25
Bruno Tshibala was arrested on Sunday night at Kinshasa airport as he prepared to board a flight for Brussels. File photo
Image by: Boyel via Google photo

An opposition leader in Democratic Republic of Congo was arrested late on Sunday for his role in anti-government demonstrations last month in which more than 50 people died, the government and his party said on Monday.

Bruno Tshibala, the deputy secretary-general and spokesman for the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Congo's largest opposition party, was arrested Sunday night at Kinshasa airport as he prepared to board a flight for Brussels, the UDPS said in a statement.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende confirmed the arrest, saying Tshibala would be questioned by the attorney general's office on Monday over his role in the protests, including the deaths of a police officer who was burned alive and a young girl.

"He is among the people who organised the protests of (September) 19th and 20th," Mende told Reuters. "Tshibala signed a communique in which he congratulated the protesters."

Congo's attorney general has said he will punish those behind the demonstrations, which were against President Joseph Kabila's alleged attempts to retain power beyond the end of his final term in December.

The UDPS, which has promised further protests, called for his immediate release.

Kabila, in office since 2001, is barred by constitutional term limits from standing for a third elected term but the country's electoral commission says it needs until December 2018 to organise the vote due to logistical and budgetary obstacles.


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