NEWS

Ottawa man back home after Congo ordeal

01/16/2012 08:10 EST | Updated 03/17/2012 05:12 EDT

An Ottawa man who jailed in the Congo following that country's contentious election and had his passport withheld is now back in Canada.

Fabien Shambuyi Kalala, 26, arrived at Ottawa International Airport late Monday afternoon and was greeted by a raucous group of friends and family, who cheered and mobbed him when he arrived.

Kalala said he was happy to be home in a brief prepared statement, and also thanked the Canadian government for doing everything possible to secure his return.

Kalala was in Congo working as a security guard for presidential challenger Etienne Tshisekedi when he was arrested and jailed days before Christmas on the charge of "insulting" President Joseph Kabila.

He was released shortly before the New Year but needed to wait several weeks before Canadian foreign affairs officials were able to get him back his passport.

Kalala said there were moments during his incarceration and afterwards when he "feared the worst" and thought he might not be able to return to Canada.

Joseph Kabila was sworn in as president on Dec. 20 after winning 49 per cent of the vote in the 2011 ballot, according to the Congolese election commission. Tshisekedi, his main opponent, captured 32 per cent of the vote.

The U.S.-based Carter Center said the results "lack credibility." The results sparked protests in Ottawa, Toronto and several U.S. cities, as many Congolese in North America said they considered it a fraudulent election.

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