Exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi will not attempt to land in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after being barred from entering the country, but will instead try to enter via Zambia, his party said yesterday.
Katumbi (53) who has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since May 2016, had planned to fly from Johannesburg to his former stronghold of Lubumbashi in a bid to stand in long-delayed December elections in the DRC.
But the city’s mayor said on Thursday that he would be refused entry.
Katumbi’s spokesperson Olivier Kamitatu said “authorisation to fly over and land had been refused by Kinshasa”.
“We will take off in the direction of (Zambian city) Ndola to take the road to Lubumbashi,” Kamitatu tweeted.
At least two police checkpoints were set up to screen access to Lubumbashi’s airport on Friday morning and the main road to Zambia had been blocked by a truck, an AFP journalist said. “As you can see, we are waiting for the president (Katumbi), but those in power do not want him to be there,” said Katumbi’s brother Abraham Soriano.
Katumbi’s entourage could not confirm yesterday that he had left Johannesburg for Zambia.
The former governor of the mineral-rich southern province of Katanga had once been close to Kabila before the two had a falling out.
If Katumbi does return he faces possible arrest after being handed a three-year jail term in absentia in June 2016 in a case of alleged property fraud, charges he denies. — AFP