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  • President Tshisekedi made an inauguration promise to free imprisoned political opponents.

    President Tshisekedi made an inauguration promise to free imprisoned political opponents. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 14 March 2019

Among high-profile prisoners who received pardons are Firmin Yangambi, Franck Diongo and Diomi Ndongala, according to the AP.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi signed an edict Wednesday effectively pardoning some 700 political prisoners in the process.

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The newly elected DRC leader made the promise to free the political opponents imprisoned, who were imprisoned by ex-President Joseph Kabila,  during his inauguration address in January.

"I will actively work to create the conditions for the early return of compatriots who are currently outside the country for political reasons to carry out their activities in accordance with the law and republican institutions," Tshisekedi said according to Africanews, also agreeing to allow political exiles to return home to the country.

Among high-profile prisoners who received pardons are Firmin Yangambi, who has served 19 years of a 20-year sentence; opposition leader Franck Diongo, who was sentenced to five years; and Diomi Ndongala, according to the Associated Press.

The charges included insurrection against the Congolese state.

Many opposition politicians and activists were arrested, in 2016, when Kabila’s legal mandate expired and demands were made for him to step down.

Tshisekedi’s predecessor had stood at the helm of the central African nation for 18 years.

Tshisekedi's inauguration marked the first peaceful transfer of power in DR Congo since 1960, though supporters of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu and some independent observers rejected the December election results.

More than a hundred political prisoners remain jailed in Congo.


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