Arrest warrant issued for DR Congo opposition leader


Congo’s opposition leader, in hospital since clashing with police during a protest last week, has been indicted on charges of hiring mercenaries as part of a plot against President Joseph Kabila, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Moise Katumbi, a former governor of Democratic Republic of Congo’s main copper-mining region, who has denied the accusations that he says are aimed at derailing his campaign to succeed Kabila in elections scheduled for November.

It was unclear if he would be arrested immediately or placed under surveillance, government spokesman Lambert Mende said, adding that the decision was up to the prosecutor.

Katumbi has been in hospital for six days, after police fired tear gas at him and his supporters outside the prosecutor’s office in Lubumbashi where his case was being heard.

President Kabila has ruled since 2001 and is barred from standing for a third term but the government says it is unlikely to be able to organise November’s polls in time, blaming budgetary and logistical constraints.

The country’s highest court ruled last week that Kabila would stay in power beyond the end of his mandate if the election does not take place.

Opposition parties called that a “constitutional coup d’etat” and called for marches across the country on May 26 to demand that Kabila step down this year.