Anti-govt rapper abducted as DR Congo vote tensions rise

10 December 2018 - 09:15 By AFP
DR Congo's president Joseph Kabila. File photo
DR Congo's president Joseph Kabila. File photo
Image: Reuters/Kenny Katombe

A rapper critical of President Joseph Kabila was abducted in the eastern DR Congo overnight, his father said Sunday amid rising tensions two weeks ahead of landmark elections.

Akim Bufole Corneille, 26, was taken by unidentified kidnappers as he left a party in Bukavu, the capital of troubled South Kivu province, his father Amuli Bufole told AFP.

"Before he was taken, he wrote a rushed message (on his phone) to alert us that he felt in danger," Bufole said.

The kidnapping of the rapper, whose stage name is Cor Akim, happened "not far from our home," his father added. "We arrived too late at the scene, where we found one of his shoes and his wallet."

Elsewhere in the vast central African country, eight people were seriously injured in election-related violence in Kindu, a stronghold of outgoing President Kabila, a human rights group said.

In the central Kasai region, six supporters of Kabila's hand-picked candidate to succeed him, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary said they were injured in a clash with members of the main opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

The December 23 presidential, legislative and municipal elections, twice delayed, are crucial in a nation that has not known a peaceful transition of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960.

Corneille Nangaa, head of the election commission, said Friday a new delay was out of the question.

"Fanning violence as some political officials are doing today is very dangerous for the country. There will not be chaos," he declared.

The new reports of violence come as Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, a harsh Kabila critic, prepares to accept the Nobel Peace Price in Oslo on Monday.

In an interview with AFP on Sunday, he said he feared the elections would "simply create more troubles since there is neither transparency, nor credibility in their organisation.... So surely the results will tend to provoke disputes which are not good for democracy."

Cor Akim recently brought out a new single titled "Mon vote" (My vote), in which the lyrics insist: "I will vote only for a better republic", and not "for thieves, for vultures in velvet".

In all, 21 candidates are registered to run in the race to replace 47-year-old Kabila, who has ruled since 2001.

Shadary is among the race's three front-runners.

Kabila's second and final elected term ended nearly two years ago, but he has remained in office due to a caretaker clause in the constitution.