Elie Kapend Kanyimbu

A veteran former rebel leader was detained in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday after media reports he had issued an “ultimatum” to President Joseph Kabila to step down, his entourage said.

Elie Kapend Kanyimbu, who led an armed uprising in the 1970s and was a comrade in arms to Kabila’s father, was picked up “after an important meeting” at his movement’s headquarters near the capital Kinshasa.

“General Elie Kapend was arrested around 15:00 by soldiers and others in civilian clothes,” one of his entourage told AFP.

The source said the arrest was likely linked to recent media reports, interpreted with some confusion by different journalists, that Kanyimbu had given an “ultimatum” to Kabila to step down by August 26 at the latest.

The arrest was not possible to confirm with authorities on Thursday evening.

Kabila this month signalled he would not seek re-election for a third term after clinging to power when his second and supposedly final stint in office ended in 2016.

He designated a former interior minister and loyalist, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, as the ruling bloc’s candidate in the December 23 elections.

Kanyimbu’s associate said there were concerns for his safety.

The leader of the Front for Congolese National Liberation, which was active in the state of Katanga in the late 1970s, Kanyimbu was an ally of Kabila’s father and former president, Laurent-Desire, who toppled Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.

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