EU Sanctions Nine Congolese Including Two Government Figures

CONGO (Capital Markets in Africa) – The European Union imposed sanctions on nine Democratic Republic of Congo citizens, including the interior and communications ministers, accusing them of undermining democracy and responsibility for human-rights abuses.

The travel bans and asset freezes represent a significant escalation in EU action against President Joseph Kabila’s government since it failed to hold elections in November. While the EU sanctioned seven security officials in December, Monday’s move is the first time the EU has targeted members of Kabila’s government.

Those listed include Interior Minister Ramazani Shadari and his predecessor, Evariste Boshab, Communications Minister Lambert Mende, two provincial governors and the head of the National Intelligence Service Kalev Mutondo. Mende didn’t answer a phone call seeking comment.

The EU said those sanctioned have either contributed to “serious human-rights violations” or applied policy that “undermines a consensual and peaceful solution towards the holding of elections.” It cited concern over“ restrictions on the democratic space and fundamental rights, including restrictions on the media” as well as reports of “disproportionate use of force by state bodies” in the country’s central Kasai region.

Hundreds of people have died and more than 1 million fled their homes in Kasai since August in fighting between militiamen and state security forces. The UN’s Human Rights Office in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, said this month that security forces were responsible for as many as 172 extrajudicial killings in April alone.

Political Agreement
Kabila, who’s been in power since 2001, was due to step down in December. He held on to power under a political agreement that promised votes this year, but implementation of the pact has stalled. Kabila’s ruling party and opposition leaders failed to reach an agreement on the appointment of an opposition prime minister to organize the polls, while voter registration in Kasai has been suspended due to insecurity.

“The EU is sending a clear message it understands there is a connection between the political leaders and the security officials,” said Stephanie Wolters, head of the peace and security research program at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital.

“I think the EU hopes this either opens up the opportunity to talk or leads other members of the political leadership to think ‘we are now on a sinking ship and we see we might be next,”’ Wolters said by phone.


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