A military intelligence unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo freed opposition party leader Martin Fayulu after holding him for several hours ahead of a planned general strike, he said Monday.
Fayulu, a member of parliament who heads the small Engagement for Citizenship and Development movement (ECIDE), was arrested by soldiers on Sunday in front of party members and passers-by.
He told AFP that he was “kidnapped” outside ECIDE’s headquarters in northern Kinshasa by agents of the Military Detection of Anti-National Activities service (DEMIAP).
The intelligence unit still had his car, a mobile telephone whose total contents they copied, some documents, a cheque book and almost 700 dollars (625 euros) in cash.
They also kept more than 1,000 leaflets calling for a general strike on Tuesday against the regime of President Joseph Kabila, who has been in office since 2001.
Under the constitution, Kabila is barred from standing in an election due to take place by the end of the year, but the opposition accuses him of seeking to delay the polls and cling to power after he made a call for “national dialogue” in November.
“They were trying to stifle the dead city (strike) day on Tuesday,” Fayulu said when asked about the probable motive for his detention.
Instead “the government has given us some publicity,” he added.
Fayulu said he was allowed to contact his lawyer while in custody, then he was taken home without charge after some eight hours in DEMIAP hands.
The ECIDE is part of an opposition coalition whose members signed a call for a nationwide general strike across the vast central African country on Tuesday.
Leaflets urging people to take part in the strike were circulating in several districts of Kinshasa, witnesses said.
Later Monday the provincial interior minister for Kinshasa, Emmanuel Akweti, told AFP that the government “has not authorised any demonstrations for tomorrow (Tuesday).”
That will disrupt the plans of the Congolese president’s party for a “peace march” to commemorate the February 16 anniversary of the deadly crackdown on the “march of the Christians” in 1992, when Catholic churches in Kinshasa led a protest against dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
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