Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) opposition leader Moïse Katumbi is close to finding his name on the ballot after the UN Human Rights Committee ruled in his favour to return to his home country.
Katumbi was twice barred from returning to the DRC four weeks ago. He attempted to travel by road through Zambia to the Kasumbalesa border post after his landing permit at Lubumbashi International Airport was denied.
The decision by Congolese authorities to block Katumbi from entering the country prevented him from filing his presidential nomination.
The UN committee has ruled that the popular opposition leader be allowed to return to the DRC and that authorities in that country should guarantee his security and participation in the general election.
“The state party is required to take all necessary measures to ensure the return of the author to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“For this purpose, the state party is also due to take all measures to guarantee to the author his right to freedom and security by protecting him against any form of arrest or arbitrary detention,” the committee ruling, issued by Ibrahim Salama, states.
Katumbi’s lawyer in France, Éric Dupond-Moretti, submitted a protest to the committee. The resolution resolved to grant the protest, insisting that DRC authorities should now process necessary logistics for Katumbi’s return. The legal team made demands that Katumbi be allowed to return and accorded “security protection”.
It adds that he should not be held in “detention”, demands which the committee has granted.
As well as allegations of training mercenaries, Katumbi has been accused of being an Italian national and was sentenced to three years in absentia over a real estate case.
The Congolese government placed Katumbi on an international arrest warrant, but he denies any wrongdoing.
The DRC will hold its presidential elections on December 23 this year. The election will be the first in seven years, after incumbent President Joseph Kabila prolonged his stay in power by two years as he allegedly attempted to seek a third term.
The deadline for nominations closed on August 8, but Katumbi and six other opposition leaders have mounted a legal challenge.
Six opposition leaders, including former vice-president Jean Pierre Bemba, have petitioned the country’s Constitutional Court after they were disqualified from standing in the polls.