President Felix Tshisekedi's former chief of staff Vital Kamerhe was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Saturday, June 20, after being convicted of massive embezzlement and corruption. Two high-profile businessmen linked to the deal were also convicted and sentenced to 20 and two years in prison. The trial, which was broadcast on national television and radio, has drawn significant public interest and the verdict, as well as a potential appeal by Kamerhe, is likely to increase the risk of demonstrations in Kinshasa and other cities in the near term.
The high-profile trial over $48 million missing from the president's flagship development program has been politically charged since Kamerhe was abruptly dismissed and Tshisekedi's chief of staff and arrested on April 8. Although the corruption allegations appear to be well-founded, opposition groups have accused former president Joseph Kabila of using the case to manipulate the government and assert his influence over Tshisekedi.
Those in the DRC are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
The security environment in the DRC remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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