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DRC opposition politician sentenced to seven years for insulting president

Jean-Marc Kabund, an opposition figure in DRC, was on Wednesday sentenced to seven years in jail for slandering the president as pre-electoral tensions sharpen in the Central African nation.

A former head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the party of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, Jean-Marc Kabund is a deputy and former vice-president of the National Assembly.

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Jean-Marc’s arrest came a month after he quit the ruling party to join the opposition.

He had quit on the allegations that the government “was incompetent and institutionalized mismanagement and predatory behavior at the apex of the state.”

Kabund appeared at the Court of Cassation for his trial on Wednesday, where he was given a sentence of seven years in jail for insulting the president.

“This a very severe sentence,” Kadi Diko, Kabund’s defense lawyer, said.

He added that the verdict pronounced by the Court of Cassation in the first and last Instance is not subject to appeal.

The Court of Cassation ruled that “all the offenses for which Kabund was prosecuted were established.”

The offenses were insulting the head of state and the institutions of the Republic and propagation of false rumors.

During the hearing, Kabund reiterated his position on the management of the country by the regime in power.

For him, ”DRC is in danger,” believing that Felix Tshisekedi, “everything is done no matter what.”

“I ask the people to do everything possible to ensure that Tshisekedi is sidelined in the next elections because I consider that the country is in danger with him at the helm. The danger is the misery of the people, it is the insecurity in the east of the country, it is the insecurity in Kinshasa, urban banditry, kidnappings,” said Kabund.

Before the judges, Kabund presented Tshisekedi’s power as an “unjust, anti-social power which organized predation.”

To support his accusations, the former interim president of the ruling party(UDPS) asserted that “those at the top share the money.”

Relatives and members of Kabund’s party considered his hearing as a “political trial” when the general elections are scheduled for December 20.

President Tshisedeki, in power since January 2019, is a candidate for a second five-year term.

Arrests of opposition figures and journalists have increased in recent months.

Another opponent, Salomon Kalonda (under arrest since May 30), a close advisor to presidential candidate Moise Katumbi, was transferred Tuesday evening from the Ndolo military prison to a health facility, according to his lawyer.

Accused of “spreading false rumors,” journalist Stanis Bujakera, a correspondent for Reuters news agency and Jeune Afrique, has been detained since Friday in Kinshasa.

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