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Congo prosecution requests 5-year jail term for opposition party chief

Congo prosecution requests 5-year jail term for opposition party chief

Republic of the Congo

Congolese prosecution on Monday requested five years in prison for Congolese opposition Paulin Makaya, who is facing charges for “inciting disturbances of public order.”

A 5 million CFA francs (USD 8,428) fine was also proposed on him, according to his lawyer Yvon Eric Ibouanga.

The defense had also pleaded for Mr. Makaya’s acquittal, arguing that there was a “serious lack” of evidence, and that he had been kept in prison beyond the maximum period of four months as prescribed by Congolese law.

The final verdict is expected to be delivered on July 25th.

Congolese authorities accuse Mr. Makaya of having organised and participated in an unauthorized protest against the constitutional referendum in October 2015. The referendum allowed the head of state Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for the presidential election of 20 March, which he won to extend his 32 year rule of Congo-Brazzaville.

Makaya who’s the chairman of a small opposition party called United for the Congo (UPC), has been imprisoned since 23 November 2015. He has been considered a political prisoner by several human rights organizations.

In February, Amnesty International called for his immediate release. In May, the French branch of ACAT (Action by Christians Against Torture) had made a similar appeal, saying that Mr. Makaya was in “illegal detention.”

Makaya was the closest collaborator Bernard Kolelas, the founding president of Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI) party in 1991. Following the coup that brought president Denis Sassou Nguesso to power in October 1997, he went into exile in London, where he will stayed for 14 years before returning to Brazzaville on July 30, 2014.