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HomeBreaking NewsOKENDE'S ASSASSINATION: DRC Shakes Up As International Community Demand Answers

OKENDE’S ASSASSINATION: DRC Shakes Up As International Community Demand Answers

Thursday morning, Chérubin Okende, a political opponent, was found dead in his car, shot dead, in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo . Mr. Okende, 61, was an MP and spokesman for the opposition party Together for the Republic, known as Together.

As soon as the news broke, condemnations of the assassination were voiced by politicians, foreign diplomats , activists and ordinary citizens. In the hours that followed, the Congolese government denounced the “ assassination ”, while the office of President Félix Tshisekedi indicated on Twitter that the president had “ learned with dismay of the disappearance in tragic conditions [of Mr. Okende] “, adding that the authorities had been instructed to open an investigation into this” despicable act “. That same evening, the government announcedthe opening of an investigation and its intention to ” associate […] foreign services from friendly countries ” in order to guarantee transparency, but without providing further details.

Speaking to the media, Ensemble leader Moïse Katumbi, considered one of the main opponents of Mr Tshisekedi in the presidential election scheduled for December, called the killing a ” political assassination ” and said that Mr. Okende was reportedly ” kidnapped before the Constitutional Court ” the day before.

An Ensemble executive told Human Rights Watch that Mr. Okende was due in the Constitutional Court on Thursday regarding his asset declaration filed when he resigned as transport minister in December 2022. The executive said that Mr. Okende went to the Court on Wednesday to ask for a postponement of the session. He had asked his security guard to hand over the application, while he waited outside in his car. When this security guard returned, according to the party official, Mr. Okende and his car had disappeared. The media reported the disappearance of the former minister on Wednesday evening.

The assassination comes at a time of heightened political tension in DR Congo, notably due to concerns about possible irregularities in the preparations for the elections. On May 30, Salomon Kalonda, a close collaborator of Moïse Katumbi, was arrested and then prosecuted a few days later for illegal possession of a weapon and undermining state security. Other opposition members have also been targeted by the authorities.

With less than six months to the general elections, the investigation into the assassination of Chérubin Okende should be prompt, impartial and transparent, and the perpetrators of this crime should be brought to justice. Any other cheap outcome would risk aggravating an already extremely tense situation.

CREDIT: Human Rights Watch

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