The Justice Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday announced the opening of an investigation against a leading presidential aspirant and former governor of the former Katanga Province, Moise Katumbi.
The investigation relates to allegations relating to “the recruitment of mercenaries,” including ex US soldiers by the owner of TP Mazembe to ostensibly destabilize the country.
“I gave an order to the PGR (Attorney General of the Republic) to open a legal case against former governor of Katanga province, we have documented evidence that several former US soldiers who are currently in Katanga in the service of Mr. Katumbi,” Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said in Kinshasa.
We have documented evidence that several former US soldiers who are currently in Katanga in the service of Mr. Katumbi.
“There is a network with a company based in Virginia in the United States that ensures the recruitment of mercenaries specialized in tweapons training, and training as security guards or bodyguards,” continued Mr. Thambwe.
Media reports that DRC govt plan to investigate potential presidential candidate Moise Katumbi—accuse him of recruiting foreign mercenaries— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) May 4, 2016
On April 24, four relatives of Mr. Katumbi, including one American, were arrested in Lubumbashi and transferred to the capital Kinshasa.
Mr. Katumbi, former governor of the former Katanga (south-east), is a potential candidate for the presidential elections theoretically expected before the end of the year.
Katumbi had on Friday accused the Congolese government of seeking to harm him by denouncing “false allegations”, referring to “alleged recruitment of foreign mercenaries in the former province of Katanga” and the “existence of training camps.”
The TP Mazembe owner and bankroller went into opposition in September last year after resigning as governor and quitting the president’s party, Mr. Katumbi, 51, is one of the great political figures in Katanga.
He has announced his candidacy to contest the upcoming presidential elections saying that he would be the candidate of the ‘Rule of Law.’
The authorities' low maneuvers will not obstruct my peaceful struggle. I will be the rule of law's candidate. pic.twitter.com/sEaWnkhYIU— Moise Katumbi (@moise_katumbi) May 4, 2016
For months, the political climate is tense in the DRC because of the uncertainty of highly probable postponement of presidential elections due to take place in late November.
The opposition accuses President Joseph Kabila who has been in power since 2001 of maneuvering to stay in power beyond his term in December even though the Constitution does not allow him to stay on.