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DRC's self-exiled opposition leader Katumbi calls for anti-Kabila protests

DRC's self-exiled opposition leader Katumbi calls for anti-Kabila protests

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Self-exiled opposition leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moise Katumbi, has called on Congolese to hit the streets and ensure President Joseph Kabila is removed from power.

He made the remark in an interview published by pan-African news analysis website African Arguments on Monday in which he said he will join the people to protest when he returns to the country.

“I’m also going on the streets and will encourage the people, because today people are dying and no serious investors have come to the country since 2016,” he said.

Katumbi did not disclose when exactly he will return to the DR Congo but says it will be “as quick as possible”.

“I went with my lawyer to the High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva and got a good answer, so I’m definitely going back. I miss my country and my people … The date is soon. I’m like a general. I need to plan everything properly,” he said.

The former Governor of Katanga Province has been in a self-imposed exile in Belgium after he was convicted and later sentenced in absentia to 36 months in prison and a fine of $6 million in a property appropriation case which he described as political distractions.

Katumbi left the DRC to South Africa before he flew to Europe to seek medical treatment after inhaling tear gas fumes fired by police when he appeared before a Lubumbashi prosecutor with his supporters to answer to charges of hiring mercenaries to overthrow the government.

He filed a legal complaint with the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights in June hoping to get international protection if he returns to run in a future presidential election.

“Kabila is attacking me – only me – because he knows in the first round I will win the elections,” he said, adding that he is different from the president because he only served the legal two-term limit as Governor of Katanga.

When asked about a possible alliance with businessman Sindika Dokolo, the Congolese son-in-law of Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, who has been sentenced to a year in prison in absentia for real estate fraud like Katumbi, he said all of Congolese will join forces to bring change to Congo.

“Not just the two of us. I was with Sidika Dokolo and Félix Tshisekedi. It’s all the Congolese people, civil society, everyone. We need real change. Congolese people today are determined. I have met a lot of Congolese children born in Europe who want to go back and contribute,” he said.

Kabila, in power since 2001, refused to step down after his mandate expired in December. Under a deal struck with his opponents, an election must take place by the end of 2017.

Doubt has been cast over the indefinite timeline after the electoral commission announced that it is not possible to hold the election this year.

Congo has never experienced a peaceful transition of power. The overthrow of longtime ruler Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 fueled years of conflict in the mineral-rich east that sucked in more than half a dozen countries and killed millions of people.

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