Brazzaville – A leading Congolese opposition figure has been allowed to leave the country for medical treatment in London, his party said on Wednesday, despite receiving a travel ban following a stint in prison.
Paulin Makaya, 52, campaigned against a 2015 referendum that allowed Congo’s long-serving President Denis Sassou Nguesso to change the constitution and run again for office in 2016.
Makaya, who has dual British and Congolese nationality, was accused of fomenting “public disorder” and sentenced to three years in prison.
He was released in 2018 but has repeatedly been banned by the border police from leaving the country, most recently on December 12. The reason for the ban has not been given.
But on Wednesday, his party said he was seeking medical treatment abroad, without saying what for.
“For health reasons, (party) president Paulin Makaya has just left Brazzaville for London to receive medical care,” the United For Congo (UPC) party said in a statement.
Makaya’s wife Christine Makaya wrote to Sassou Nguesso in November to ask him to let her husband leave, saying his health had been worsening for months and was now “worrying”.
Sassou Nguesso, a 78-year-old former paratrooper, has been president of the Republic of Congo, also called Congo-Brazzaville, for a total of 37 years – a two-stretch tenure that first began in 1979.
Rights activists say Congo has a record of routinely quashing dissent, inflicting long prison terms on opposition leaders in the central African nation.
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