DR Congo: Opposition leader Moïse Katumbi under house arrest amidst controversy over alleged election fraud

By Esther Muhozi
On 9 January 2024 at 02:52

DR Congo opposition figure Moïse Katumbi, who finished second in the December 20, 2023 presidential election, has been confined to his residence after advocating for the annulment of the election results.

His political party, Ensemble pour la République, asserts that preventing him from leaving his home in Haut-Katanga province amounts to a "de facto house arrest." The 59-year-old businessman and former governor of Katanga province received 18 percent of the votes, while the incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi secured 73 percent, as reported by the electoral commission (CENI).

Various opposition candidates and observers raised concerns about irregularities and logistical issues during the elections, where Tshisekedi sought a second term. In a statement on January 6, Katumbi claimed that the election was tainted by "massive fraud and treachery" and called for the resignation of CENI’s head, Dennis Kadima.

On January 8, Katumbi’s party revealed that he was prevented from leaving his residence and surrounded by heavily armed soldiers. Videos circulated on Congolese social media allegedly showing Katumbi in his car conversing with policemen who obstructed his passage.

According to Olivier Kamitatu, Katumbi’s spokesperson, the situation amounts to de facto house arrest and reflects a dictatorial escalation of power, aiming to suppress democratic opposition peacefully. Kamitatu emphasized that Katumbi, as a free citizen, has the right to express himself and move freely within his country, asserting that the encirclement of his residence lacks legal justification.

The government’s actions are perceived as an attempt to intimidate a political leader who merely demands the annulment of what he considers the most fraudulent elections ever held in the country.

Despite the electoral commission annulling votes for 82 candidates, including three ministers and four governors, on January 5 due to fraud and violence, the announcement did not address the irregularities raised concerning the presidential polls. Katumbi accused the electoral commission of aiming to uphold the current regime in power.

DR Congo opposition figure Moïse Katumbi has been confined to his residence after advocating for the annulment of the election results.