DRC opposition leader Kabund gets 7 years in jail for insulting president
A Democratic Republic of Congopolitician Jean-Marc Kabund, a former close associate of President Felix Tshisekedi, has been sentenced to 84 months of penal servitude, the equivalent of seven years in jail, just three months to the country’s scheduled General Election.
The Court of Cassation in Kinshasa handed down the penalty on Wednesday in what his lawyers said on Thursday was a surprise to the former pillar of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS, Tshisekedi’s party, of which Kabund was interim chairperson.
Kobund had replaced Tshisekedi at the helm of the party after the Congolese leader took a leave of absencewhen he was declared president in January 2019.
But since then, things had turned upside down for him.
Read:DRC ex-minister turned opposition MP found dead
Last month, the public prosecutor had requested a three-year prison sentence for him. On Wednesday, the sentence handed down is not subject to appeal, meaning hewill be behind bars at least until 2030, unless he is pardoned.
He faced counts, including offending the country’s institutions and insulting the Head of State. These charges were brought against him after he made scathing comments about President Tshisekedi and parliament in July 2022.
Read:Tshisekedi’s headache in quest to win upcoming presidential poll
In that month, while hosting a press conference to launch his political partyAlliance pour le Changementin front of television cameras, Kabund had denounced “the lack of a clear vision, notorious incompetence and institutionalised mismanagement characterised by recklessness, irresponsibility, enjoyment and predation at the top of the State” and had declared “Felix Tshisekedia danger for the State”.
Although these are strong words, Kabund stands by them. He repeated them again during these appearances, while complaining about the legal troubles and concern of his wife, who has been charged byKinshasa Vice-Governor Gerard Mulumba, notably for “public insults”.
This former executive of the ruling party was one of the architects of Felix Tshisekedi’s victory asthe head of the country in January 2019. He played an important role in the ousting of former president Joseph Kabila’s coalitionCommon Front for Congo(FCC.
Read:Kabila plays wait-and-see on DRC polls
Kabund played one of the central roles in setting up the current parliamentary majority. He has been held in Makala prison in Kinshasa since 9 August 2022.
Hebegan to have problems afterhe was ousted from the UDPS and from his position as first vice-president of the National Assembly in 2022.
Having joined the opposition, he gradually radicalised his views on the Congolese authorities.