Exiled opposition politician seeks to reclaim DRC passport

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Kinshasa — An exiled opposition heavyweight barred from returning to the Democratic Republic of Congo to contest December’s presidential election has begun moves in Belgium to reclaim his Congolese passport, his spokesman says.

Moise Katumbi, a wealthy businessman and former regional governor living in self-imposed exile in Belgium, filed a passport application at the Congolese embassy in Brussels, the spokesman said.

The 54-year-old left Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2016 after falling out with then president Joseph Kabila, who stood down in January after 18 years in power after veteran opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi won the elections.

On Wednesday, “@moise_katumbi was at the DRC embassy in Brussels to begin the process of reclaiming his (Congolese) passport”, his spokesman Olivier Kamitatu Etsu tweeted.

Dual citizenship is illegal under DRC law. The authorities, during the Kabila era, said Katumbi had acquired an Italian passport and thus had forfeited his right to Congolese citizenship. Kinshasa also pursued a legal case against him for “usurping his Congolese nationality”.

Katumbi has been “unjustly deprived of his passport until now, and this basic right which every Congolese citizen enjoys must be reinstated,” Kamitatu wrote, accusing the Kabila regime of “political, legal and physical harassment” of him.

But he added there was no date for Katumbi to return home as the conditions were “not right”.

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