04 January 2021 :
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi’s office said that he has pardoned two men convicted over the assassination of former ruler Laurent-Desire Kabila, the father of his political rival Joseph Kabila, AFP reported on 2 January 2021.
The announcement comes during a political crisis that has put Tshisekedi at loggerheads with Joseph Kabila, his immediate predecessor as president.
Laurent-Desire Kabila was shot dead in his office by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001. The bodyguard was then shot dead.
But two senior officials, the slain president’s former aide de camp Colonel Eddy Kapend and former intelligence chief Georges Leta, were among those convicted of the conspiracy to kill the president. Both men have denied any part in the plot.
Kapend and some of his co-accused “benefit from the presidential pardon of 31 December 2020, which is a measure of a general scope and of an impersonal character”, Giscard Kusema, of the presidential press team, told AFP.
It was part of a process that had started on 30 June last year when the president commuted death sentences to life jail terms, he added.
The latest presidential decree said that those people who had served 20 years in prison by 31 December should be freed, said Kusema.
“Eddy Kapend and some members of his group are therefore concerned,” he added.
The news comes just a few weeks after Tshisekedi ended his increasingly fractious coalition with Kabila on 6 December. But Kabila’s supporters still hold a majority in parliament.
The break between the two rival political factions has been followed by brawls in parliament that have sparked alarm abroad and fears of new unrest in a country with a long history of conflict.