Today, Congo is facing a political crisis.
Its constitution says it should have the first democratic transfer of power in its history on December 19th. But President Joseph Kabila is blocking the holding of elections. At least 53 people were killed in September protests, and violence could escalate.
According to a recent poll, 74% of Congolese citizens believe President Kabila should leave office this year. Despite efforts by the government to delay elections until 2018, President Kabila should announce his intention to step down, and allow a transitional government to shepherd the process of completing a peaceful and legitimate transfer of power.
- Financial pressure - anti-money laundering measures. The US Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) should counter money laundering activities of senior Congolese officials and their commercial partners by issuing a request to U.S. financial institutions pursuant to Section 314(a) of the Patriot Act. The request would lead to more vigorous reporting of suspicious activity related to the laundering of the proceeds of corruption. This action would not cut off the general Congolese population from the banking system, but rather be directed against a specific list of individuals and entities.
- Financial pressure - enhanced targeted sanctions. The United States government should designate higher-level individuals in Kabila's inner circle for targeted sanctions. The first three U.S. designations made measurable positive impacts, but the Kabila regime continues to work to stay in power in violation of the constitution, using violence as a principal strategy. Sanctions on senior financial and political advisors would increase the pressure on the regime to respect the constitution, come up with a meaningfully inclusive transition regime, commit to holding elections in 2017, and use restraint.
- European pressure. The European Union should implement restrictive measures, including travel bans and asset freezes, against senior individuals in the DRC who are responsible for human rights abuses and obstructing a peaceful democratic transition.
- Civilian protection. MONUSCO should increase its presence in vulnerable parts of DRC where demonstrations are being planned and key opposition groups organize to provide protection for peaceful protestors and monitor human rights abuses occurring particularly in the context of demonstrations.