Prominent Congolese businessman and one-time presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi has returned home after three years in political exile.
Katumbi, who said he feared for his life under the regime of former President Joseph Kabila, arrived in his hometown of Lubumbashi on Monday and stepped out of his private jet dressed in all white.
Katumbi had been sentenced in absentia to three years in prison on real estate fraud charges he said were politically motivated. At one point he had accused the government of trying to poison him, an allegation it denied.
In April, a court in the capital Kinshasa annulled the prison sentence enabling him to return from exile in Belgium.
Al Jazeera’s Catherine Wambua-Soi, reporting from Lumbubashi, said large crowds lined the streets of the provincial headquarters to welcome Katumbi.
“Thousands came to the airport to receive Katumbi. He creates political excitement. He has said he will register a political party and go around the country selling his agenda,” said Soi.
Katumbi was barred from taking part in the presidential election to replace Kabila last year.
Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi ultimately won the election, according to official results, and other political exiles have also started to return after Kabila’s departure.