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Congolese Rebels Accuse Tanzania of Arresting, Extraditing Their Commander

Eric Nkuba Shebandu, one of the leaders of the Alliance Fleuve Congo (AFC) was arrested on January 3, 2024, when he was trying to enter Tanzania at the JNIA, the movement claims.

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Dar es Salaam. Corneille Nangaa, the coordinator of the Alliance Fleuve Congo (AFC), a coalition of various rebel movements in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has accused Tanzanian authorities of arresting one of the movement’s commanders, Eric Nkuba Shebandu, and handing him over to their Congolese counterparts.

In a statement released on Sunday, Nangaa claimed that authorities arrested Shebandu on January 3, 2024, at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) when the rebel leader was entering Tanzania to attend a meeting. Nangaa claimed that Shebandu was transferred to Congolese authorities shortly after the arrest.

Paul Mselle, the spokesperson of the Tanzania Immigration Department, was not immediately available to confirm these claims. Nangaa’s claims, widely reported by the Congolese press, came shortly after the country’s army announced that it was holding Shebandu.

General Sylvain Ekenge, the spokesperson for the Congolese army, presented Shebandu to the press at the military intelligence headquarters, specifying that specialised services had carried out the arrest, it was reported.

General Ekenge told journalists that Shebandu, during questioning, revealed several names as part of his contacts, including key political figures in Congo’s political and business fields.

READ MORE: Minister Slams ‘Hype’ On DRC Mission: ‘Tanzania is Not at War with Any Armed Group in DRC’

But Nangaa, who was sanctioned by the U.S. for corruption and obstructing the 2018 election, said in a statement that the confessions obtained from Shebandu were the result of “torture” and aimed at “terrorising” and arresting members of the opposition. 

He said that he wrote to President Samia Suluhu Hassan on March 18, 2024, to express concerns over the “kidnapping” of their commander.

Alliance Fleuve Congo (AFC) was launched on December 15, 2023, in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, a few days before the general elections in Congo on December 20, with Nangaa, the former chairperson of the Electoral Commission, at its helm.

According to its founders, the movement aims to save the DRC, an Eastern African nation gripped by political instability for over three decades, affecting millions of Congolese nationals. AFC seeks to re-establish DRC sovereignty and put an end to insecurity, its founders claim.

The launching of the political-military alliance in Nairobi caused a diplomatic stir among the members of the East African Community (EAC), leading the DRC to recall its ambassadors to Kenya and Tanzania for “consultations.”

READ MORE: Why The DRC’s Election Is a Halting Step Towards Embedding Democracy

DRC had recalled its ambassador to Tanzania because the country hosts the headquarters of the EAC, of which Congo is a member.

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