Congo ex-presidential candidate Mokoko charged

Then Congolese presidential candidate Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko arriving at his closing rally in Brazzaville on March 18, 2016 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari) (AFP/File)

Brazzaville (AFP) - General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, who ran unsuccessfully against Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso, has been charged with breaching state security, his lawyer said Thursday.

Mokoko was in custody in Brazzaville after being charged with "breaching internal state security and the illegal detention of weapons of war and munitions", Yvon Eric Ibouanga told AFP.

The general, who was military chief of the oil-rich African nation from 1987 to 1993, won less than 14 percent in a March election which returned Sassou Nguesso to the presidency with more than 60 percent of the vote.

He was detained on Tuesday by security services for questioning and was seen by several witnesses arriving handcuffed at the prosecutor's office Thursday.

He had quit as a peace and security advisor to Sassou Nguesso in February in order to challenge the strongman's 32-year grip on power, and has been living under surveillance at his home in central Brazzaville since the vote.

"The arrest of general Mokoko is a troubling and very embarrassing matter", said Clement Mierassa, president of the opposition Social Democrats party (PSDC).

Mokoko "has been harassed since ran a good campaign and did well at the polls during the last presidential election," Mierassa added.

Mokoko has been accused of discussing plans to remove Sassou Nguesso from power with a man presenting himself as a French intelligence agent in a video filmed in 2007.

He told AFP in March that he had been "trapped" but had resolved the video charges "inside the family" with the head of state and was therefore surprised it had come up again.