Friday, June 18, 2021

DR Congo President’s Chief of Staff arrested in corruption probe


The all-powerful and influential Director of Cabinet in President Felix Tshisekedi’s office has spent his first night on cold floor at a maximum-security Makala central prison in the DRC capital Kinshasa.

The government said that Vital Kamerhe is being investigated for embezzling billions that were allocated to 100-day work initiated by President Tshisekedi after he assumed office.

His arrest and detention was ordered on April 8th sending the country into panic owing to the previous power Kamerhe wielded.

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Kamerhe was driven in a security services car from the Prosecutor General’s office in Matete and was delivered to the Prison doors in which he was gladly welcomed. Malaka will be his home for the next 15 days until he is produced in court.

On Wednesday, Kamerhe was summoned to the Prosecutor General’s office and was grilled starting from 1 p.m. and lasted at least six hours.

Kamerhe arrived at the prosecutor’s office with a handful of colleagues, his assistant and two lawyers.

As though well-choreographed, the Prosecutors office had been sealed off by heavily armed military officers and the police squadron which had already taken up positions in the morning around the premises.

Members of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) Kamerhe’s political party were at the prosecutor’s office protesting the manner in which their leader had been handled. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

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“We are taking him to Makala,” said a police source when asked by reporters as a heavily guarded convoy zoomed out of the Prosecutors compound.

On March 2, 2019, President Felix Tshisekedi launched the Emergency Program for the first 100 days of his mandate.

His program included; several selected infrastructure projects, schools and even social housing. However, there was a delay in the implementation of these projects and the President wanted answers.

President Tshisekedi requested the opening of a judicial inquiry on the allocation of the funds released by the Public Treasury. Several business leaders have been heard in this case, some of whom are still in detention.

The prosecution summoned Vital Kamerhe seeking information on his role in the award of contracts, the procedure, the disbursement of funds allocated to the work of grade separations and social housing.

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