Panic has gripped media practitioners in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as operatives of the much dreaded National Intelligence Agency (ANR) snatched a journalist from the airport and whisked him to an unknown destination.
According to local media reports, the journalist has been identified as Papy Okito who serves as an editor of “Écho d’Opinion” newspaper with offices in Goma,North Kivu.
Eye witnesses quoted by local media revealed that Okito was arrested by the ANR operatives on Friday.
He was allegedly taken to a detention cell in a van from Goma international airport early in the afternoon at the request of the Republican Guard who arrested him as he was dropping off a letter.
He was allegedly taken to the ANR intelligence offices since then, no reason for his arrest has been communicated to his relatives or even to journalists who want to know the cause of this deprivation of liberty which has lasted more than 48 hours.
ANR emphasizes that investigations are ongoing and are progressing well.
Meanwhile, in Kinshasa, journalist Stanis Bujakera was arrested in similar circumstances at N’djili international airport.
The deputy publishing director of the ACTUALITE media outlet and correspondent for Jeune Afrique in the Democratic Republic of Congo is currently detained in Makala central prison.
On December 20, 2023, the DRC of 80 million people will hold Presidential elections, and President Félix Tshisekedi is a confirmed candidate. Other opposition candidates include; Moïse Katumbi,main competitor who is the leader of the opposition party Martin Fayulu.
Fayulu threatened that he would not run if proper changes are not made on the current electoral commission.
Presidential candidates are expected to be announced next October, with a final list due in November.
Human Rights Watch recently accused the government of Tshisekedi of “repressing” and “intimidating” the opposition, four months ahead of the presidential elections.
The New York-based group cited the UN Joint Human Rights Office which has noted “political and electoral violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions, abductions and threats targeting political opponents.”
President Felix Tshisekedi has also in the past few months made several changes in his 57 member-cabinet and various positions in state parastatals.
Analyst says the overhaul of the DRC’s 57 member-cabinet just months before the election is a ‘deeply political shuffle’.
However, the president’s spokesperson Patrick Muyaya said the reshuffle was “urgent and necessary.”