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D.R Congo9 May 2003

Radio France Internationale correspondent assaulted by opposition party

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.

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