Kinshasa – A former DRC ruling-party stalwart turned opposition politician was on Wednesday sentenced to seven years in jail for slandering the president, as pre-electoral tensions sharpen in the central African nation.
Jean-Marc Kabund, an MP and ex-head of President Felix Tshisekedi’s UDPS party, was arrested in the capital Kinshasa in August 2022 for “insulting the head of state”.
A month prior, he had quit the ruling party to join the opposition, accusing the government of “incompetence and institutionalised mismanagement marked by indifference, irresponsibility, entitlement and predatory behaviour at the apex of the state”.
Kabund’s defence team said a Kinshasa court had handed him seven years in prison.
“This is a very severe sentence,” defence lawyer Kaddy Ditou told reporters.
The verdict – which cannot be appealed – goes well beyond the three years requested by the prosecution.
Kabund’s jailing comes as arrests of political figures and journalists have increased in recent months in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a volatile nation facing elections in December.
For example, Salomon Kalonda, an adviser to leading opposition figure Moise Katumbi, was arrested in late May.
Congolese authorities on Friday also detained Stanis Bujakera, a journalist working for Reuters news agency and Jeune Afrique magazine, on charges of spreading false rumours.
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