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Katumbi treated after being tear gassed by police

Katumbi treated after being tear gassed by police

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The leading opposition candidate in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moise Katumbi was on Friday rushed to a hospital in Lubumbashi for treatment.

This was after police had fired tear gas at him and his supporters outside the prosecutor’s office where he was due for a hearing, his lawyer said.

The former Governor of the mineral rich Katanga province recently announced his bid for the country’s presidency hours after the country’s Justice Minister had ordered the prosecutor general to investigate his alleged recruitment of mercenaries, including former US soldiers.

Katumbi has denied the accusations, which he said are aimed at derailing his campaign to succeed President Joseph Kabila.

But Katumbi’s appearance before the prosecutor has not been without challenge.

On Monday when he first appeared before the prosecutor, the hearing was adjourned to Wednesday following confrontations between his supporters some of who were arrested by police.

The scene was repeated on Wednesday and then on Friday when Katumbi returned for the hearing.

On Friday, shortly after the arrival of the opposition leader, police clashed again with Katumbi’s supporters and they fired tear gas into the crowd. The two sides pelted each other with stones.

The hearing was suspended after Katumbi said he suddenly felt unwell.

The political climate in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been tense for some months now as the opposition insists President Joseph Kabila must step down at the end of his term in office later this year.

Dozens were killed in January 2015 in protests over a proposed revision of the country’s electoral law that critics said was a ploy to keep Kabila in power even beyond the end of his mandate.

Critics of president Kabila accuse him of trying to delay the November election to cling to power. The government has said that it is unlikely to be able to organise the poll in time due to budgetary and logistical constraints.

Meanwhile, the country’s highest court ruled last Wednesday that Kabila would stay in power beyond the end of his mandate this year if the election did not take place.