KINSHASA (Reuters) - A renegade Congolese colonel who had threatened to depose President Joseph Kabila has been extradited from Tanzania and will be prosecuted for rebellion, Congo’s defence minister said on Monday.
In a video circulated on social media last month, John Tshibangu, who had been based in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), gave the president a 45-day ultimatum to leave or “we are going to take Kabila down”.
But Tshibangu was then detained by authorities in Tanzania towards the end of last month.
“John Tshibangu is in Kinshasa. We are going to leave him to face justice for rebellion, a crime catered for and punished by the Congolese penal code,” Defence Minister Crispin Atama Tabe told Reuters by text message.
Tshibangu used to be a military commander in the central Congolese region of Kasai. He defected in 2012 and moved to the lawless east, long a haunt of would-be Congolese rebels.
One of Tshibangu’s associates, a captain in the Congolese army called Freddy Ibeba, was also arrested in northern Congo on Monday and will be taken to Kinshasa for a hearing, justice minister Alexis Thabwe Mwamba told a press conference on Monday.
Of Tshibangu, he said: “I would like to reassure that he will be entitled to a fair and equitable trial.”
Kabila’s refusal to step down when his mandate expired in December 2016 has emboldened several armed groups, stoking violence and raising the spectre of the vast, mineral-rich nation tumbling back into the kind of wars that killed millions in the 1990s, mostly from hunger and disease.
Reporting Amedee Mwarabu; Writing by Joe Bavier, Tim Cocks and Edward McAllister; Editing by Mark Heinrich