DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi pledges to free political prisoners

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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has promised to free political prisoners within the next 10 days.

The 55-year-old who took over from Joseph Kabila in January made the pledge as he unveiled his “emergency programme for the first 100 days”.

“To cement the democratic advances achieved in our country, I have made reducing tensions a major goal,” President Tshisekedi said.

“I will order the justice minister to take all necessary measures within the law towards a conditional release of all individuals detained for opinion offences – notably during the protests held before the elections.”

He also hinted at the possibility of allowing exiled politicians to return to the country.

Tshisekedi’s assumption of office in January marked the DR Congo’s first peaceful transfer of power since its independence in 1960. Previous leader were either toppled or assassinated.

Experts project that Tshisekedi’s biggest challenge will be unifying the country that has been dogged by ethnic clashes for decades.