World Bulletin / News Desk
Three pro-democracy activists have been released after spending five months in prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo over a protest march against President Joseph Kabila, their organisation said Friday.
They were sentenced to five months in prison for organising "an anarchic march" and inciting "civil disobedience" on July 31 in Lubumbashi.
The activists said the march was intended to call on the country's electoral commission to quickly announce the date of long-delayed elections.
The vast country has weathered unrest and violence over the date of its next polls after Kabila refused to step down on the expiry of his second and final term in 2016.
Under a compromise deal, elections were then supposed to take place by December 2017, but were repeatedly postponed -- officially due to violence in the restive Kasai region of the DR Congo.
The vote has since been scheduled for December 23, 2018.
Another activist arrested over the July march, Timothee Mbuya, was expected to appeal his 12-month jail sentence on Friday.
Kabila, who took power after his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001 at the height of the Second Congo War, is banned by the constitution from running for a third term but can remain in office until his successor is elected.
A protest campaign led by the country's opposition has been met with a police crackdown that has led to fatalities and arrests.
The government of the economically-ravaged country has for many years heavily subsidized petrol and Maduro says this has now led to a voracious black market in oil smuggled to neighbouring countries.
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