Congo’s president pardons hundreds of political prisoners

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has pardoned around 700 political prisoners jailed under his predecessor.

Among those to be freed on Wednesday were opposition figures Franck Diongo, Diomi Ndongala and Firmin Yangambi, who had been jailed under former President Joseph Kabila for various national security offenses.

Read more: Who is Felix Tshisekedi, Congo’s new president?

The pardons fulfill a promise Tshisekedi made to free opposition political prisoners in his first 100 days in office.

Tshisekedi was declared winner following the December 30 election, marking the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Promise to fight corruption

The final years of Kabila’s 18-year rule were marked by the arrest of dozens of opposition politicians and activists who rallied against the over-extension of the president’s legal mandate in 2016.

A former opposition leader, Tshisekedi has promised to fight corruption and open up political space.

Read more: Tshisekedi, Kabila agree on coalition 

The pardons appear intended to dispel rumors that Tshisekedi had struck a backroom deal with Kabila to rule the vast mineral-rich country.

Supporters of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu rejected the December election results and have accused Tshisekedi of being a front for Kabila and his cronies.

cw/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

Image Credit: Getty Images/S. Maina

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