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Kenya rejects demand to arrest Congolese politicians

Monday December 18, 2023

President William Ruto terms request to arrest DR Congo opposition figures "undemocratic"

Kenyan President William Ruto says he rejected a demand to arrest Democratic Republic of Congo's politicians who launched an alliance with rebels in Nairobi on Friday.

Corneille Nangaa, the former head of DR Congo's electoral body, on Friday announced in a hotel in the Kenyan capital that he was creating a political-military alliance with M23 rebels and other armed groups with the aim of restoring peace.

Mr Nangaa was flanked by M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa.

The move sparked an angry response from the Congolese government who warned Kenya of “consequences” for hosting him.

President Ruto, who spoke to Kenyan journalists in an interview on Sunday, said he refused to heed the request to arrest the DR Congo politicians, terming it "undemocratic."

"Kenya is a democracy. We cannot arrest anybody who has issued a statement. We do not arrest people for making statements, we arrest criminals," Mr Ruto added.

On Saturday, the Congolese government summoned the Kenyan ambassador in Kinshasa and also recalled its ambassador to Nairobi for "consultation".

In response, Mr Ruto said it was DR Congo's right to do so, "But I cannot arrest anybody merely because they issued a statement. That is undemocratic, and that is not how Kenya is."

Kenya's foreign ministry earlier said it "strongly disassociates" from DR Congo's internal affairs, adding that it had begun investigating the matter.

DR Congo gears up for tense elections on Wednesday with worsening insecurity in the eastern region, where more than 100 armed groups, including M23, operate.


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