Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh on Sunday negotiated the release of the Democratic Republic of Congoâ€™s human rights minister Ntumba Luaba-Lumu from captivity by the ethnic Hema militia in Bunia, reports Emmy Allio.
â€œI am myself a hostage since I am negotiating the release of hostages. I am proud to carry out this role,â€ Saleh said on Sunday. He said the minister and his entourage were freed on Sunday in exchange for 10 Hema militiamen held in Kinshasa.
Sources said President Yoweri Museveni appointed Saleh to mediate the release of the minister who was abducted last Thursday on arrival in Bunia with Toma Lubanga, head of the Hema militia. Lubanga was a former defence minister in the administration of RCD-Liberation Movement (RCD-ML) of Mbusa Nyamwisi.
On Saturday, DRC leader Joseph Kabila requested Uganda to intervene in the release of the minister. In Bunia, the minister was kept under guard in a room shared with other captives.
â€œThey were given food and water and were allowed to go to church on Sunday morning,â€ DRCâ€™s information minister Kikaya bin Karubi told reporters in Kinshasa.
The minister flew from Bunia to Entebbe in the same plane with a prominent Ugandan businessman Sam Engola who was held in Beni by RCD-ML rebels. Mbusa accused Engola of supporting another rebel group.
Mbusaâ€™s deputy defence minister Didier Mandey said Engola was not under arrest but â€œcarrying out normal business.â€
Engola said he was not under arrest but was questioned for alleged arms transportation.