By Daniel Singleton
Moise Katumbi, one of the leading opposition figures in the Democratic Republic of Congo has broken his silence and told RFI that he is firmly determined to return to his home country to ensure President Joseph Kabila does not cling on to power.
The pledge comes despite his sentencing by a Congolese court to a three year jail sentence for alleged property fraud on June 22, while he was abroad for medical treatment.
This after two police officers reportedly beat him during an opposition demonstration on May 20. The former Katanga Province governor – he lost his post after the redrawing of the provinces’ boundaries implemented by Kabila – said he had been authorised to leave the country by the prosecutor general to be treated in another country.
I’m going back to Congo as soon as possible
Katumbi added that he was hoping to be in Kinshasa by July 31, the day scheduled for a get-together of the opposition, who recently agreed a unity accord, headed by UDPS veteran leader Etienne Tshisekedi.
But more importantly, Katumbi explained that he was convinced that if the national electoral commission does not set a date for the presidential polls by September or Kabila attempts to stay on after December, it would be the peaceful protests of Congolese citizens that would force him out:
The Congolese people are ready to say bye bye Mr President
So tensions are likely to rise in the DRC throughout the rest of the year. Critics of Kabila fear that he is aiming to play for time, so as to have the constitution changed to allow him to run for a third term. Though he declared a few days ago that there would be elections, he did not give any dates.