KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — A Congolese opposition leader who was arrested Sunday before a planned strike this week has been released, the government’s spokesman said.
Martin Fayulu, an opposition parliamentary member for the Engagement for Citizenship and Development political party, was arrested for incitement to disorder, government spokesman Lambert Mende said. Fayulu, however, is a national deputy so he has immunity and can’t be held, Mende said.
The party confirmed Fayulu had been released and was at home.
The opposition has called for citizens to stay at home on Tuesday to demand that elections be held within the constitutional deadline.
“We have no reaction to this, but we know only that it is a working day,” Mende said.
Presidential elections are slated for November. The electoral commission on Wednesday said gubernatorial elections will be held March 26.
The opposition is worried President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001 and is meant to leave office in December, will upset the election timeline to stay in power. He is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term.
Mass protests erupted last year against proposed changes to the electoral law, widely seen as a ploy to prolong Kabila’s rule. More than 40 people were killed when security forces cracked down on those demonstrations, Human Rights Watch said.
The revision was scrapped, but Kabila’s opponents still suspect the president may try to stay on beyond his mandate by delaying next year’s vote. He hasn’t said directly what his plans are.
Congo has never had a peaceful transfer of power in its 55 years of independence.
SALEH MWANAMILONGO, Associated Press
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