Republic of Congo opposition wants political prisoners freed

A top Republic of Congo opposition party has called for the unconditional release of political prisoners and easing of arbitrary arrests.

The Pan-African Union for Social Democracy's statement issued overnight Sunday follows a similar request last week by Amnesty International.

Gen. Jean Marie Michel Mokoko, an independent candidate in the March presidential elections, is under provisional house detention. Paulin Makaya, president of the opposition United Party for Congo, was sentenced last week to two years in prison for inciting public disorder and insurrection.

Makaya was detained after participating in an October protest of a referendum allowing the country's longtime president to seek another term. The referendum ultimately passed.

President Denis Sassou N'Guesso, in power for more than 30 years, was re-elected in March.