Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Moise Katumbi has told Congolese prosecutors he has no plans to overthrow the government of President Joseph Kabila by use of force.
Katumbi, the former governor of the mineral-rich Katanga province, appeared before prosecutors Monday to answer government allegations he recruited foreign mercenaries.
Gama Mumba, one of the lawyers for Katumbi, said Katumbi told prosecutors he had asked a U.S.-based security company to send him an individual who would advise him on his security details since the government had withdrawn the Congolese security that had been assigned to him once he joined the opposition.
Did not know ‘they’ were Americans
But Mumba said Katumbi told prosecutors he did not know the individual sent by the U.S. security company had been a member of the U.S. military.
“The subject was about the recruitment of all the soldiers of American arms. The prosecutors asked Katumbi if he had he had recruited some soldiers of American army to protect him. And Katumbi said that he didn’t know one of the people the American company sent him for advising him on security matter was a soldier,” he said.
FILE - Moise Katumbi Chapwe, Governor of Democratic Republic of Congo's Katanga province, is pictured during an interview, on June 2, 2015 in Lubumbashi.
Government feared overthrow
Mumba said the government had been made to believe that Katumbi had been recruiting mercenaries to overthrow the government.
“For the government, the information they have received was that Mr. Katumbi was making a recruitment of foreign soldiers to organize something against the government. That was the information they put in the file of Katumbi. But when they asked him he said no,” Mumba said.
Mumba says Congolese security refused to provide security for Katumbi because they were afraid of retribution from the government against anyone who helps the opposition.
“The first time he talked to the Congolese security companies, but all the companies were fearing to have problem with the government because Katumbi joined the opposition. So during this time, the government was fighting against people who are working in the opposition,” he said.
DRC government is afraid of Katumbi
Mumba reiterated that the government made the allegations because Katumbi has declared his intention to challenge President Joseph Kabila in this year’s election.
“I think the problem was about his intention to become a candidate for the presidential election. But I think now things are clear that he never thought about organizing something against the government,” he said.
Mumba said a huge crowd of supporters accompanied Katumbi Monday to the prosecutor’s office because they wanted to make sure the government did not jail their leader or take him to Kinshasa.
“The population came with Katumbi because the news the population received was that the government was going to send Katumbi to prison or to be transferred to Kinshasa. That was the reason the population came and surrounded the office of the prosecutor,” Mumba said.