The Enough Project is deeply concerned about the growing political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, protesters across the country are risking their personal safety and freedom to demand that Congolese President Joseph Kabila adhere to the Constitution on the issue of national elections — announce he will step down, not seek a third term, and hold elections on time.
Civil society and opposition groups planned peaceful, coordinated protests to take place today, as part of an ongoing struggle to ensure Congo has the opportunity to facilitate the first democratic transfer of power in the nation’s history. For over a year, citizens have been calling on President Kabila to indicate his intentions to step down, resulting in dozens of arbitrary arrests and detentions. Government security forces are continuing this trend of violent response to the country-wide demonstrations using tear gas, beatings, and bullets. Last week, the government issued an arrest warrant against political opponent Moise Katumbi, taking a page from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's handbook of attempting to silence and disable rivals through trumped up charges.
The United States and several European countries are actively considering implementing targeted sanctions against key individuals in President Kabila's regime in order to pressure the president to adhere to the Constitution on the election issue. However, there is a real danger that international action will be too little and come too late – as the worrying developments throughout today’s protests indicate.
Now is the time for the United States to take a decisive stance in defense of human rights and democracy by issuing targeted sanctions, authorized under an existing Executive Order, on President Kabila’s inner circle for undermining democratic institutions and committing human rights violations. This is a critical step to prevent further instances of rampant abuse and corruption.
Read more on the need for consequences:
- The United States should learn from its past blunders in Congo, Washington Post
- Sen. Markey urges strong U.S. policy, including targeted sanctions, in support of timely, free, and fair Congolese elections
- European Union Parliament, Student activists Call for Targeted Sanctions on Kabila’s Circle on Elections Issue
Photo credit: Ida Sawyer, Twitter