US defends Congo event after diplomat arrest

Kinshasa, Congo – The United States is defending its support of an event in Congo where an American diplomat, activists and journalists were arrested.

The diplomat has been released but others remain in custody. Sunday’s arrests come amid tensions in Congo over next year’s presidential elections, which some fear the government will try to postpone.

In a statement posted on its website Monday, the US Embassy in Kinshasa identified the diplomat as Kevin Sturr, an official with the democracy and rights program for the US Agency for International Development.

The embassy said it partially sponsored the event over the weekend that brought together youth activists to talk about engagement in politics. The detentions followed a news conference about the meeting. The embassy said Congolese officials were invited to and attended the event.

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