The Democratic Republic of Congo’s opposition presidential candidate Moise Katumbi on Monday appeared before a prosecutor in the country’s second largest city Lubumbashi to respond to accusations from the government that he hired foreign mercenaries.
Police fired tear gas at more than 1,000 supporters of Moise Katumbi who marched to the prosecutor general’s office, where he was being questioned, chanting “president!”, the BBC reported.
A witness told Reuters that some of the supporters entered the building and at least four of them were arrested.
Katumbi’s supporters say the allegations are aimed at derailing his campaign to succeed President Joseph Kabila.
The former Katanga governor announced his bid for the presidency last Wednesday, hours after Justice Minister, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba ordered the prosecutor general to investigate his alleged use of mercenaries, including several retired American soldiers.
But Katumbi has denied the allegations.
The owner of the Congolese football team, TP Mazembe called on the international community and the Congolese government to investigate the allegations after they were crawled on a pro-government TV station, Tele 50.
The government has however denied targeting Katumbi for political reasons.
Katumbi, a former ally of president Joseph Kabila, governed the mineral-rich Katanga province from 2007 until September 2015, when he left the ruling party after accusing Kabila of attempting to delay the 2016 elections.
The country is expected to head to the polls in November this year as president Kabila’s term comes to an end.
DRC’s electoral commission said in January that it would take at least 13 months to update voter lists, pushing the election back into 2017.
Kabila is yet to publicly confirm whether the elections will go ahead as planned nor whether he will attempt to run for a third term in office.