Africa  

Ex-spokesman for DRCongo’s Kabila briefly arrested

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 8, 2018 DRCongo Minister of Communications and government spokesperson Lambert Mende present the candidacy of former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary for next December presidential elections in Kinshasa. – Mende, who was the spokesperson of former DR Congo president, was arrested on May 19, 2019 in Kinshasa, his relatives told AFP. (Photo by Junior D. KANNAH / AFP)

The spokesman for the regime of DR Congo’s former president Joseph Kabila was arrested briefly on Sunday, his entourage said, accusing the authorities of torturing him.

Lambert Mende himself later told reporters that he had been roughed up while in custody.

Mende “was brutally abducted from his home” Sunday when police and soldiers arrived in four jeeps, his personal secretary Franck Diefu told AFP.

“He has been released after having been tortured,” said Auguy Kande, another member of his team.

Kalev Mutond, a former head of the ANR, the country’s intelligence service, said Mende was arrested on the orders of the deputy interior minister Basile Olongo. It was Mutond who originally alerted the media to the arrest.

Mende, speaking to reporters after his release, accused Olongo of having a grudge against him over an affair concerning diamonds.

For more than 10 years of Kabila’s presidency, from 2008 until early this year, Mende served as communications minister and government spokesman.

The 66-year-old was subsequently elected a deputy to the Congolese parliament, but failed in his bid to be elected governor of the central province of Sankuru. Local deputies refused to vote for him even though he was the only candidate.

Felix Tshisekedi took office as the new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo in January, although another candidate Martin Fayulu insists that his rival cut a deal with Kabila to steal the election.

Tshisekedi has formed a political alliance with Kabila, whose party still dominates parliament and holds most of the provincial governorships.

Tshisekedi is due this week to name a prime minister — but that will have to be someone both he and Kabila can agree on.

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