Kinshasa: The Democratic Republic of Congo announced on Saturday that it had detained the spiritual leader of the Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) movement, an outlawed group that has called for an insurrection against the government.
A policeman and three BDK fighters were killed when the police advanced on the compound in Kinshasa that housed Ne Muanda Nsemi and several of his followers.
A statement from the communications ministry said that 307 people had surrendered and that Nsemi, his three wives and his son were being held.
Nsemi will face charges of “insulting the head of state, inciting tribal hatreds, and encouraging civil disobedience,” the statement said, without disclosing a trial date.
The police had been hoping to dislodge the people holed up in the compound for two weeks, saying they wanted to search it.
BDK stands for ‘Kingdom of the Kongo’ in the Kikongo language, and its members have pursued secession in order to restore an African monarchy that included what is today Kongo Central (formerly Bas-Congo) along with parts of neighbouring Angola, the Republic of Congo and Gabon.
Nsemi, a lawmaker originally from Kongo Central, in the west of the country, recently issued a call online for an uprising against President Joseph Kabila, saying he is not a Congolese citizen.
Nsemi began seeking a rapprochement with Kabila starting in late 2015, but reversed course when Kabila refused to step down after his second and final mandate ended on December 20.
Talks aimed at setting up a transition regime have stalled, and tribal violence has flared in several parts of the country.
On Saturday, the United Nations said it would provide aid worth $5 million (18.3 million) to help people affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Kasai region.
At least 400 people have been killed in the region since September, the UN says, in clashes between government forces and supporters of a militia leader killed by the government last August.