DR Congo jails harsh government critic

"Luc Malembe was sent to prison by the military tribunal of Bunia (in northeast Ituri), which accuses him of offending authority after calling for the military governor to resign," Malembe's lawyer Rodrigue Kubuya told AFP.

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BUNIA, DR CONGO - A harsh critic of the DR Congo government's policy in the troubled east of the country has been jailed for criticising what he called an "ineffective" policy, his lawyer said Sunday.

"Luc Malembe was sent to prison by the military tribunal of Bunia (in northeast Ituri), which accuses him of offending authority after calling for the military governor to resign," Malembe's lawyer Rodrigue Kubuya told AFP.

Malembe is the spokesman of an opposition coalition, Lamuka, which backed the candidacy of Martin Fayulu against current President Felix Tshisekedi in 2018.

Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province have since May 6 been under a "state of siege" to support a military offensive aimed at neutralising armed groups who target civilians as well as army positions.

Tshisekedi decreed the measure, under which soldiers and police officers have replaced civilian authorities in the two provinces.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a respected US-based monitor of violence in the region, has recorded the deaths of nearly 1,200 civilians in the region since the measure took effect.

Meanwhile sources told AFP on Sunday that Tshisekedi has authorised soldiers from Uganda to enter DRC territory to chase rebels blamed for massacres in the region.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the deadliest of dozens of armed groups operating in the mineral-rich eastern DR Congo, has been blamed for scores of attacks.

The United States has formally linked it to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Gold-rich Ituri has been plagued by violence since late 2017, and massacres and abductions continue despite the state of siege.