On 4 May 2003, Baudoin Kamenda, a Radio France Internationale
(RFI) correspondent in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was
physically assaulted by activists of the Union for Democracy and Social
Progress (Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, UDPS) opposition
party in Kinshasa.
Reporters Without Borders urged UDPS leaders, and party president Etienne Tshisekedi in particular, to apologise to the journalist and to publicly commit themselves to ensuring that such attacks do not reoccur. Moreover, the organisation asked Congolese judicial authorities to launch an investigation into the incident in order to identify and punish those responsible for the assault.
"This attack is unacceptable. When taken together, the repression by state
actors, various political parties and armed groups seriously compromises the
safety of journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo," said Reporters Without Borders’ Secretary-General Robert Ménard.
The organisation recalled that in 2002, about 20 journalists were detained
in areas of the country under government control and about 15 others in
areas controlled by rebel groups.
In a telephone discussion with Reporters Without Borders, Kamenda explained that he was assaulted during a press conference held by Congolese Rally for Democracy (Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie, RCD-Goma) rebels in a Kinshasa hotel. UDPS activists who came to support the RCD-Goma attacked the RFI journalist. They accused him of announcing the appointment of Arthur Zahidi Ngoma, an opposition politician and former rebel leader, as vice-president
of the transition government on the air. The UDPS and other opposition
parties have protested and rejected "the unilateral and unacceptable
appointment of Mr. Zahidi Ngoma" as vice-president. They believe Tshisekedi
should have been appointed instead. Kamenda was lightly wounded in the face
before hotel security and police officers came to his defence. The
journalist has since filed a complaint against the UDPS.