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DRC elections: RSF condemns attack on RFI correspondent

DRC elections: RSF condemns attack on RFI correspondent
A party official inspects voters lists outside a polling station as voting continues   -  
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Samy Ntumba Shambuyi/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday condemned the attack on a correspondent of the French radio station RFI in Kinshasa by "presidential party militants" during the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

General elections (presidential, legislative, provincial and local) were held on Wednesday and continued on Thursday in the DRC, in a highly tense political and security climate. President Félix Tshisekedi is standing for a second five-year term.

Pascal Mulegwa, RFI's correspondent, "was beaten by militants of the presidential party (UDPS) in a voting centre in the capital", while covering the elections, RSF said in a statement.

"They dragged me along the ground and took my belongings, accusing me of working for RFI, which they say they hate", said the journalist, quoted in a statement by the Association of International Press Correspondents in the DRC (ACPI-RDC).

RFI's management "strongly condemns" the attack on Pascal Mulegwa, who was "attacked and roughed up by supporters of a presidential candidate", the radio station said. RFI "will continue to cover the elections" in the DRC "with the professionalism and balance that characterise the work of its journalists", it added.

When contacted, an official of the UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress) was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

In its statement, RSF calls on the Congolese authorities "to protect media professionals so that they can provide unrestricted coverage" of the elections.

The organisation deplores several other cases of attacks and threats against journalists, which it has documented since the start of the election campaign on 19 November. In the space of a month, at least five journalists have been attacked and threatened by political figures or their supporters, according to RSF.

In addition to this presidential campaign punctuated by press freedom violations, "President Tshisekedi's term in office has been marked by many other abuses against journalists", notably the arrest on 8 September of Stanis Bujakera, correspondent for Jeune Afrique and Reuters. The journalist has since been detained and put on trial for an article implicating military intelligence in the murder of an opponent.

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