Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Friday as demonstrators gathered in support of rich and powerful opposition figure Moise Katumbi.
Several thousand supporters of Katumbi attended the demonstration outside a courthouse where dozens of lawyers had also arrived to give their backing to the opposition figure who is being charged for hiring foreign mercenaries in what is said to be a plot against the government.
Protesters say the allegations against Katumbi are baseless, describing them as “a grotesque lie.”
Lubumbashi is the capital of the relatively prosperous Katanga Province and the second-largest city in the country. The city is the mining capital of the country, acting as a hub for many of the biggest mining companies.
Moise Katumbi, the former governor of Katanga Province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a presidential candidate, arrives at the court in Lubumbashi on May 11, 2016 over alleged use of foreign mercenaries to plot against the government. (AFP photo)
Katumbi was the governor of Katanga from 2007 to September 2015. He has been described in media reports as the “second most powerful man” in the country after President Joseph Kabila.
Last week, the popular former governor, who also owns one of Africa
’s most successful football teams, TP Mazembe, announced that he will be running as the opposition candidate for presidency, possibly against Kabila, who faces term limits under the constitution.