BRAZZAVILLE – Authorities in Congo Republic have charged a former army chief and candidate in a presidential election earlier this year with violating state security and illegally possessing arms, his spokesman said on Thursday.
General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has been in detention since Tuesday, according to spokesman Michel Rodriguez Abiabouti. Mokoko, 69, was a power broker in the former French colony’s 1990s civil war.
The government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso has accused Mokoko, a former security adviser to the president, of involvement in an alleged coup attempt in 2007. Mokoko’s supporters say the president is trying to stifle dissent.
“He has spent two nights at the DGST (General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance). This morning, they brought him to the Palace of Justice and indicted him,” Abiabouti said, describing it as a response to Mokoko’s refusal to recognize Sassou’s election victory.
“It is just another demonstration of force to muzzle the opposition,” he said.
Sassou Nguesso has ruled the oil producing central African nation for all but five of the past 37 years and won a disputed election in March. Most opposition parties boycotted the vote, although Mokoko ran and came third.
Last year Sassou Nguesso held a referendum on constitutional change allowing him to seek a third term in power, as several other African leaders have done, leading to protests in which at least 18 people were killed by security forces.
The government spokesman did not respond to a telephone call requesting comment.(Reuters)