Congo Opposition Leader Sentenced to Jail for Insulting KabilaMalcolm Beith
A Democratic Republic of Congo court sentenced an opposition leader to a year in prison for insulting President Joseph Kabila, a government spokesman said.
Jean-Bertrand Ewanga, secretary-general of the National Congolese Union, was sentenced to jail by the Supreme Court yesterday, Lambert Mende said by phone today from the capital, Kinshasa. Ewanga was arrested Aug. 5 after a rally in Kinshasa and was also charged with inciting ethnic hatred.
European Union officials in Congo denounced Ewanga’s detention, calling on the government to respect an earlier Supreme Court ruling that he should be placed under house arrest rather than imprisoned.
U.S. officials have also expressed dismay since Ewanga’s arrest, saying that any action against him will undermine political stability. Opponents of Kabila have expressed concern that he has no interest in allowing free and fair elections in 2016, and that he will try to run for a third presidential term, which is currently barred by the constitution.
Kabila came into office in 2001, 10 days after his father, Laurent, was assassinated. Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, and the sixth-largest producer of copper.