The Minister of Justice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Celestin Tunda, was released a few hours after his arrest in the capital Kinshasa.
Prosecutors interrogated Tunda for several hours in the cassation court after surrendering to the police at his home on Saturday afternoon.
“He has been released,” said Kinshasa Police Chief Sylvano Kasongo.
Authorities did not immediately explain the reasons for the arrest of Tunda, who also holds the position of deputy prime minister in the government of President Félix Tshisekedi.
A ministerial source told AFP news agency that tThe anti-Tunda movement came a day after he clashed with the president over proposed changes to the judiciary.
The arrest highlights growing tensions within the ruling coalition between the Tshisekedi camp and that of its predecessor, Joseph Kabila. Tunda is a major figure in Kabila’s FCC party, which has a majority in parliament and controls most of the cabinet posts.
Tshisekedi, previously an opponent of Kabila, came to power in January 2019 after being declared the winner of an election that Kabila was not eligible to contest after 18 years in power.
“I think we are experiencing a turning point in the relationship between FCC and [Tshisekedi’s] UDPS, “said Fred Bauma of the Congo Research Group at New York University.” The justice minister is an FCC heavyweight and his arrest, if confirmed, follows many turmoil in recent weeks. “
The proposed legal reform would give the Ministry of Justice greater control over prosecutors, which, according to opponents and diplomats, would damage the independence of the judiciary.
“Undermining this independence would erode the protection of civil and political rights in the [Congo]”The embassies of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States said Thursday in a joint statement.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against the law on parliament grounds on Wednesday. They were dispersed by the police firing tear gas and water cannons.