afrol News, 26 April - On Monday, officers of the Congolese National Police (Police nationale congolaise, PNC) and various information services barred journalists and media workers from covering Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba's return to the country at the Kinshasa/N'Djili international airport.
Tshisekedi is national president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, UDPS). He returned to Kinshasa on Monday after 16 months in South African exile.
Heavy security was in place for his arrival, with journalists kept well away, while he was greeted by a delegation of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, AFP reported. Tshisekedi left the airport in the direction of his home in Kinshasa's Limete district. The UDPS office in France had issued a communiqué on Sunday voicing fears for Tshisekedi's safety on his return to Kinshasa.
However, according to witnesses and information received by the media watchdog Journaliste en danger (JED), about twenty journalists, representatives of Kinshasa-based press organs, as well as foreign correspondents, were illegally confined, locked in an airport hangar until Tshisekedi's procession had left the Kinshasa/N'Djili airport.
In addition, police officers and various information services' agents confiscated some of the journalists' work materials.
According to some observers, the purpose of this repression was to stop Tshisekedi's arrival from being filmed and also prevent a press conference, which the opposition leader was scheduled to conduct at the airport's hall of honour, from taking place.
Sources: International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and AFP