Former vice president of Congo’s parliament, Jean-Marc Kabund, has been sentenced to seven years behind bars by a high court in Kinshasa. Kabund who now leads his own political party after splitting from President Felix Tshisekedi last year has been held at the main prison in the capital since his arrest in August.
The charges against Kabund stemmed from a speech he gave criticizing Tshisekedi’s leadership and government. He disparaged his performance in office. Specifically, the court found Kabund guilty of “spreading false rumours” and “contempt for head of state and parliament.”
At his trial last month, Kabund stood by his remarks and said the country was in peril under Tshisekedi’s leadership. He urged citizens to ensure Tshisekedi is not re-elected when the DRC holds national elections in December.
With this sentencing, Kabund will be blocked from entering the presidential race himself as the leader of his new Alliance for Change party. The ruling comes from one of Congo’s highest courts, called the Court of Cassation, whose decisions cannot be appealed. The outcome delivers a significant blow to opposition efforts to challenge Tshisekedi’s re-election bid.