The government announced on Thursday that the spokesperson of a prominent opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo was fatally shot, further escalating tensions leading up to the upcoming December national elections.
Unverified footage circulating on social media allegedly depicts the lifeless body of Cherubin Okende, a former transport minister and parliament member, with multiple bullet wounds, as seen inside his vehicle.
According to Okende’s political party, Ensemble pour la République, he was reportedly abducted from the parking lot of the Constitutional Court in the capital city of Kinshasa.
A reliable source close to Okende revealed that the politician had recently delivered a letter in response to a court summons prior to the incident.
In a Twitter statement, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya characterized the death as a targeted assassination and expressed his profound shock at the tragic event.
At the end of December, Okende tendered his resignation from the government following the departure of Moise Katumbi, the leader of the Ensemble party, from the ruling coalition.
Katumbi publicly declared his intention to challenge President Felix Tshisekedi in the upcoming elections.
As the election approaches, political tensions have escalated significantly. In late May, Salomon Kalonda, an adviser to Katumbi, was arrested and accused of undermining state security in connection with a violent turn of events during an opposition march.
Kalonda, who was alleged to have brought a weapon to the occasion, refutes the accusations.
Katumbi urged for impartial inquiries into what he labeled as a “odious crime”.
Tshisekedi urged the judiciary to “shed light on this case” and sent his condolences to the family, the presidency said on Twitter.