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Congo opposition spokesman’s death ruled a suicide

A prosecutor in the Democratic Republic of Congo said that the death of a former minister and opposition party member last year has been ruled as suicide.

The news of Cherubin Okende’s death prompted small anti-government protests in Kinshasa last year, with demonstrators saying it was an assassination. A spokesperson for his party called Thursday’s ruling “absurd”.

Okende, a former transport minister who was also a member of parliament and spokesman for the Ensemble pour la Republique party, was found dead in his car in July.

“According to the results of the investigations, Cherubin Okende committed suicide,” Firmin Mvonde Mambu, prosecutor general of the Court of Cassation in Kinshasa, said.

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Mvonde Mambu said Okende’s office was searched and that he had written “I am at the end of my rope” in a diary three days before his death.

An autopsy and examination of the weapon and vehicle also led to the conclusion, said Edmond Isofa Kanga, public prosecutor at the Kinshasa Gombe High Court, speaking at the same press conference.

At the time, Mvonde Mambu told reporters that Okende had died by gunshot and that his body was found in a car, with the motor still running and a gun on the passenger’s seat.

A video shared on social media purported to show his body ridden with bullets. Reuters did not authenticate the video.

The ruling on Thursday could stoke political tensions. Okende’s party said at the time of his death that he had been kidnapped and murdered.

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“This is absurd because it doesn’t correspond to the facts as we know them,” Herve Diakiese, a spokesperson for Ensemble party leader Moise Katumbi, told Reuters on Thursday after the ruling.

“His body was found riddled with bullets, he was kidnapped in front of the Constitutional Court,” Diakiese said.

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By The African Mirror

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