JUNE 30, 2005
Posted: July 14, 2005

Basile Kokwalet, RFO-AITV
Didier Lofombo, Horizon 33


Security forces harassed and briefly detained journalists covering opposition protests in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.

Members of the presidential guard arrested Basile Kokwalet, a Congolese cameraman for French public service television RFO-AITV, as he was filming the start of the demonstration, according to a colleague who witnessed the arrest. Agents held Kokwalet at gunpoint, seized his equipment, and took him to the headquarters of the presidential guard.

Security forces also detained Didier Lofombo, a camera operator with the private Kinshasa television station Horizon 33, holding him for about three hours, according to local journalists.

Kadura Kasongo, President Joseph Kabila’s spokesman, told CPJ that he instructed police to release any journalists detained while doing their work.

Several people were reported killed across the country, according to Agence France-Presse, as police fired on opposition supporters protesting delays in democratic elections. Elections should have taken place by the end of June, according to a 2002 peace agreement. However, electoral registration has only just begun and Parliament this month voted for a six-month delay in the vote. Today’s protests were called by the UDPS opposition party of veteran politician Etienne Tshisikedi, which is not part of the transition government.