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DRC's Prosecutor summons Katumbi on mercenary charges

DRC's Prosecutor summons Katumbi on mercenary charges

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Prominent opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moise Katumbi has been summoned to appear before the country’s prosecutor general on Monday. He is being accused of hiring foreign mercenaries, according to his lawyer, King Kasongo Mushilanama.

The country’s Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba had ordered the prosecutor general on Wednesday to investigate links between Katumbi and several retired American soldiers.

In response to the charges, Katumbi has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying that he suspected the government of resorting to smear tactics. The U.S. Embassy in the capital Kinshasa also stated its position and said that it believed the accusations were not true.

His lawyer Kasongo said that Katumbi’s home in the outskirts of Lubumbashi was ransacked on Saturday by elite Republican Guard troops, who are responsible for guarding the president and securing strategic installations.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said he could not confirm the search, as it is a judicial matter, but added that Congolese law permits the use of the Republican Guard in such situations, according to media outlet Al-Awsat.

Dozens of people were killed in protests in January 2015 over alleged efforts by Kabila to extend his stay in power, it further reports. Since then, authorities have arrested dozens of Kabila’s critics on what the United Nations and human rights groups say are trumped-up charges.

Katumbi was the governor of Katanga Province, Congo’s southeastern copper-mining heartland, from 2007 until last September when he quit Kabila’s ruling party, accusing it of plotting to keep the president in power beyond a two-term limit.