A former prisoner, convicted for his alleged participation in the assassination of the Democratic Republic of Congo ex-President Laurent Kabila in 2001, has been promoted to the rank of brigadier general in an army reshuffle.
Eddy Kapend, who had been Kabila’s top military aid, was part of a group of soldiers released in 2021 following pardons issued by President Félix Tshisekedi, who took over from Joseph Kabila, the son of the late president, in 2019.
Kapend has always denied involvement in the murder plot, and rights groups at the time criticised the trial.
The army reshuffle comes just over a week after the former inspector general of the police and army, John Numbi, launched a verbal attack on the president.
Numbi, who lives in exile in Zimbabwe, described Tshisekedi as “incompetent”, saying “the army and police were no longer bound by their duty to obey”.
However, he stopped short of calling for an insurrection.
Kapend has been assigned as commander of the 22nd military region in his home territory of Katanga, a strategic province just two months ahead of the elections.
Former president Joseph Kabila, presidential opponent Moïse Katumbi, and Numbi, also hail from the south-eastern region.
Tshisekedi has denied there was a political motivation for the move, saying Kapend’s appointment was based on his merits as a military officer and his loyalty to the supreme commander.