Congolese soldiers chase reporter critical of President

The UN said on Tuesday that soldiers “forced entry” into its base in the volatile Kasai region of DR Congo aiming to arrest a journalist critical of President Joseph Kabila.

Journalist Edouard Diye Tshitenge had been planning to present a manifesto on Monday demanding the removal of Kabila, who has refused to step down despite constitutional limits.

But the general who heads operations in the region, where at least 3 000 people have been killed in a conflict since last year, banned the presentation for alleged security reasons.

The troops pursued Tshitenge to the facility in Kananga operated by Monusco, the UN peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo, prompting strong UN condemnation.

“The United Nations is concerned about this very serious incident, especially because it took place under the command of a senior officer,” Monusco said in a statement.

“A group of soldiers… forced entry into a Monusco base under the pretext of pursuing a journalist who had taken refuge there,” the statement said.

A DRC government spokesperson defended the soldiers’ actions and disputed the UN’s version of events.

“It was once inside that he showed his press pass. It is untrue to say that soldiers forced the Monusco gates,” spokesperson Lambert Mende told AFP, adding the soldiers did not enter the base.

Monusco said “the increasing harassment and threats targeted at journalists shows a restriction of the space of freedom of speech.”

In Kasai, violence erupted last September after the death of a tribal chieftain, known as the Kamwina Nsapu, who rebelled against the authority of Kabila’s regime in Kinshasa and its local representatives.

The killing sparked violence that has escalated, including alleged violations of human rights such as extrajudicial killings, rapes, torture and the use of child soldiers.

In office since he succeeded his murdered father in 2001 while war wracked the nation, Kabila failed to stand down last year at the end of his final elected constitutional term.

A deal was cut by the regime and a minority within the opposition to hold elections by the end of 2017.




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