President Kabila files anti-corruption case against officials

President Joseph Kabila


Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has filed a criminal complaint against more than a dozen current and former government officials for fraud and corruption, the media ministry confirmed on Saturday.

It did not name anyone, but local and French media reported earlier this week that the complaint targeted senior officials including the governor of copper-rich Katanga province, Moise Katumbi – a longtime ally of the president turned critic.

Katumbi, seen as a potential contender for the presidency in elections next year, told Reuters on Thursday he had not been officially informed of any charges but that he would not be surprised if they came.

The media ministry said the complaint includes allegations of accepting bribes and defrauding customs services.

The public prosecutor’s office says the dossier is sealed and has refused to name anyone mentioned in it. “President Kabila is committed to doing everything possible to preserve the public’s faith in both their elected and appointed representatives,” media minister and government spokesman Lambert Mende said in the statement.

He has denied that there was any political motive behind the charges.

Katumbi was a longtime ally of Kabila, but the two fell out in December after Katumbi publicly voiced opposition to the idea of Kabila serving a third term in office.

Kabila, who came to power in 2001 and won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011, is constitutionally ineligible to stand in the polls, but opponents accuse him of seeking to hold onto power beyond 2016.

Kabila has refused to comment publicly on his political future, but Mende has said that the president intends to respect the constitution.

Congo ranks 154 out of 175 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index.