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Six jailed Congolese activists reject President Kabila's pardon

Six jailed Congolese activists reject President Kabila's pardon

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Six jailed pro-democracy activists pardoned by Congolese President Joseph Kabila on Friday have decided to serve their sentences in “solidarity with other prisoners of conscience.”

Their decision was made public in a statement released on Saturday by their pressure group Citizens Fighting for Change (Lucha), which is based in Goma, the capital of North Kivu in eastern DRC.

“The six activists detained in Goma chose to remain in jail in solidarity with other Lucha activists and all other Congolese imprisoned for their opinions and their fates uncertain,” the statement said.

The six activists, who are less than 30 years old including a woman, were arrested on February 16 during an opposition demonstration and then sentenced to two years in prison for attempting to incite a riot.

On March 4, their sentence was reduced to six months in prison after an appeal.

The presidential pardon was granted, according to an order, to “create a political climate of confidence in the country.”

The release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience was one of the demands of the opposition in order to participate in the national dialogue initiated by the Head of State for peaceful elections.

The pressure group has however supported the president’s decision to pardon political prisoners and prisoners of conscience while demanding for the inclusion all those in custody pending appeals.