Congolese opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi says he was prevented Tuesday afternoon from leaving a hotel in Lubumbashi, where he has stayed since the weekend arrest of activists meeting at the headquarters of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party.
“I am prevented from leaving the hotel to go and meet with people,” said the UDPS head in a social media message. Michée Mulumba, a media liaison for Tshisekedi, said police in Democratic Republic of Congo’s second-largest city parked a vehicle outside the hotel door and told the Rassemblement contingent that they were forbidden to leave the site.
Mulumba also said police deployed tear gas to break up a clash with militants outside. Tshisekedi was expected to return to Kinshasa on Wednesday ahead of the arrival of Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations who is currently on a tour of African nations including DR Congo.
The arrest Sunday of Rassemblement coalition members has been met with sharp criticism from UN staff in the country. Maman Sidikou, head of MONUSCO, warns of an uptick in the harassment and detention of politicians aligned against President Joseph Kabila, who still refuses to hold presidential elections that were due a year ago. His government now says it won’t be possible until 2019, despite the optimism of a power-sharing deal earlier this year that was expected to lead to elections in late 2017.
In that time, conflict and human rights compromises in DR Congo, notably in the Kasai provinces, has spiraled out of control; Haley’s visit comes as the UN reports nearly a half million people have been displaced just in the past three months. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) appointed a team of international experts in July to investigate reports of mass killings and grave human rights violations, but Kabila has denied access.
Haley is outspoken in her opposition to DR Congo’s seat on the UN Human Rights Council, an election decision earlier this month that was widely condemned.