Congo on Thursday issued an “international” arrest warrant for opposition leader Moise Katumbi.
The central African country’s justice minister alleged that Katumbi had been planning to run in December’s presidential elections, but has been prevented from returning to Congo in time to register.
A former ally of President Joseph Kabila, Katumbi has been in self-imposed exile avoiding a slew of criminal charges.
The millionaire politician has denied any wrongdoing.
“An international arrest warrant has already been issued by the attorney general of the republic against Moses Katumbi, he must be arrested where he is found,” Justice Minister Alexis Mwamba said.
Mwamba said a number of African and European countries had been informed about the warrant.
Katumbi reportedly tried to cross into Congo from Zambia earlier this month, but was denied entry.
Katumbi, once governor of mineral-rich Katanga province, broke with Kabila in 2015 and has since been sentenced in absentia to three years in prison for property fraud. He also faces charges of “undermining state security.”
An ex-soldier and son of a former president, Kabila has repeatedly delayed elections in recent years resulting in massive anti-government protests, which security forces have at times used deadly force to quell.
Last week, Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, announced he would not be running again in the December 28 vote.
Instead, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari will represent the ruling coalition, recently renamed Common Front for Congo (FCC).
The opposition presidential hopefuls include Felix Tshisekedi and Jean-Pierre Bemba – a former warlord who was jailed at the Hague before his conviction was overturned.