Congo governor tells security forces to leave home of presidential runner-up Katumbi

KINSHASA (Reuters) -Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday ordered security forces to leave the home of main opposition politician Moise Katumbi, which they had surrounded in what the provincial governor called a “faux pas”.

A spokesman for Katumbi, who came second in disputed presidential elections last month, said earlier on Monday that security forces had surrounded his secondary home in the southern province of Upper Katanga, where the politician is staying, and were preventing him from leaving.

Provincial Governor Jacques Kyabula Katwe condemned the incident, saying it was a “faux pas” committed by some law enforcement authorities to protect the property from vandalism.

“We immediately ordered the barrier to be lifted, which was immediately done,” he said in a post on X.

Congo has been on tenterhooks since logistical setbacks, an election day over-run, and an opaque vote count have fuelled a dispute that threatens to further destabilise the world’s top producer of cobalt and other prized industrial commodities.

Both the opposition and independent observers have criticised the way the Dec. 20-24 election was conducted and raised doubts about the transparency of the vote in which President Felix Tshisekedi won a second term.

Katumbi, who came second with 18%, was among several main opposition contenders who ruled out mounting a legal challenge to the results, citing an alleged lack of independence of state institutions.

He has added his voice to opposition calls for the election to be annulled, citing “massive fraud”, and in a statement on Sunday urged the international community not to recognise the provisional results announced by Congo’s election commission.

Only two opposition candidates out of 18 presidential contenders filed petitions to challenge the results to the Constitutional Court, which is due to deliver its verdict by Jan. 12.

(Reporting by Ange Kasongo; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Ed Osmond and Richard Chang)