Congolese activists convicted of inciting anti-Kabila protests

KINSHASA (Reuters) - A Congolese court on Tuesday sentenced four pro-democracy activists to a year in prison for inciting protests against President Joseph Kabila, their lawyer said. Kabila maintains a tight grip on the Democratic Republic of Congo despite his announcement in August that he will not defy constitutional term limits to seek a third term in elections due in December. That decision calmed tensions that have roiled the country since he refused to step down when his mandate expired in 2016.

Reuters September 26, 2018 00:07:21 IST
Congolese activists convicted of inciting anti-Kabila protests

Congolese activists convicted of inciting antiKabila protests

KINSHASA (Reuters) - A Congolese court on Tuesday sentenced four pro-democracy activists to a year in prison for inciting protests against President Joseph Kabila, their lawyer said.

Kabila maintains a tight grip on the Democratic Republic of Congo despite his announcement in August that he will not defy constitutional term limits to seek a third term in elections due in December.

That decision calmed tensions that have roiled the country since he refused to step down when his mandate expired in 2016. But his opponents remain sceptical that the vote will be free and fair.

The activists were arrested on Dec. 30 as they mobilised residents of the capital Kinshasa to demonstrate against Kabila's refusal to quit power. Security forces have killed dozens of people in similar protests over the last two years.

Carbone Beni, Grace Tshiunza, Mino Bopomi and Cedric Kayembe were convicted of incitation to civil disobedience, their lawyer Jacquemain Shabani told Reuters.

Beni is a coordinator of Filimbi, a youth movement whose members have been repeatedly detained by the security services.

Shabani said his clients would appeal their sentences, and should be released by Dec. 30 at the latest on account of time already served.

A fifth accused activist, Palmer Kabeya, was acquitted by the court.

Shabani and rights groups say Beni was badly beaten during his arrest and that he and the others were illegally held by the intelligence services without access to lawyers.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said on Tuesday the activists should file a complaint with the prosecutor's office if they had suffered abuse.

The United Nations has repeatedly criticised Congolese authorities for suppressing freedom of speech and using violence against peaceful protesters.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned earlier this month that widespread human rights violations by the government "endanger the credibility of the electoral process".

The government has dismissed those charges and accused the United Nations and foreign governments of interfering in its sovereign affairs.

(Reporting by Stanys Bujakera; additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; writing by Sofia Christensen; editing by Aaron Ross and Andrew Roche)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.