"DR Congo: Troops Surround Home of Election Runner-up Moïse Katumbi"

Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo briefly surrounded the home of main opposition politician Moïse Katumbi, who finished second in last month’s disputed elections. According to his spokesperson Hervé Diakesse, Mr. Katumbi was prevented from leaving his home in southern Katanga province on Monday. However, the security forces later withdrew following orders from a local governor.

Mr. Katumbi has rejected President Félix Tshisekedi’s landslide victory in last month’s election as fraudulent. Five other opposition leaders, including Martin Fayulu, who finished third, have called for a protest march against the election results.

On Monday evening, residents of Kashobwe village were seen in social media videos heading towards Mr. Katumbi’s home after news spread that security forces were preventing him from leaving. According to one of Mr. Katumbi’s relatives speaking to the French RFI news website, the home was surrounded by heavily armed soldiers.

In an attempt to calm the situation, provincial governor Jacques Kyabula Katwe ordered the security forces to leave, describing the incident as a “mistake.” He explained that the initial intention of the security forces was to protect Mr. Katumbi’s property from potential acts of vandalism.

The election on December 20th was marred by widespread logistical problems, with some independent observers expressing concerns about the voting process. Only one candidate has taken the election results to court for challenge, while others have expressed a lack of confidence in the courts and called for the population to “resist electoral fraud” without specifying further details.

According to the election commission, Mr. Tshisekedi won about 73% of the vote, with Mr. Katumbi receiving 18% and Mr. Fayulu 5%. Western governments have urged restraint amid fears of post-election violence, with the UN’s top human rights official, Volker Turk, expressing concern about rising ethnic tensions. Nearly 20 people were killed in election-related violence leading up to the vote.

Piers Potter


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