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Congo Frees US Diplomat but Detains African Democracy Activists

Monday, 16 Mar 2015 07:09 AM

A U.S. diplomat arrested at a pro-democracy meeting in Democratic Republic of Congo has been freed but the African activists detained alongside him remain in custody, Congo's government said on Monday.

Security forces made around 40 arrests when they broke up a press conference in Kinshasa attended by activists, journalists and musicians, including Senegalese and Burkinabe youth leaders visiting Congolese counterparts.

The arrests come at a sensitive time in Congo's politics with President Joseph Kabila due to step down next year but critics fear his camp is looking for ways to allow him to stay in power.

"He was returned to the embassy late last night," Information Minister Lambert Mende said, referring to Kevin Sturr, a USAID official with the democracy and good governance program in Congo.

"There are the three Senegalese and the Burkinabe and their Congolese accomplices who continue to be questioned," Mende added. "Each will have his fate...Either they will be released or put at the disposition of the public prosecutor."

The meeting in Kinshasa was being organized by a Congolese movement called Filimbi, which works to encourage youth to engage in politics.

The foreign activists arrested included Fadel Barro, a member of the Senegalese collective of journalists and hip-hop artists "Y en a Marre", which helped organize protests against former President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term in 2012.

A member of Burkina Faso's grassroots political group "Balai Citoyen", which played a leading role in protests that toppled longtime President Blaise Compaore last year, was also detained.

Mende said on Sunday that Congo's intelligence services believed the press conference billed as an exchange between African civil society organizations was in fact a project organized by "instructors in insurrection."

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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A U.S. diplomat arrested at a pro-democracy meeting in Democratic Republic of Congo has been freed but the African activists detained alongside him remain in custody, Congo's government said on Monday.
Congo, africa
283
2015-09-16
Monday, 16 Mar 2015 07:09 AM
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