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Take Action: Tell Congressional Leaders It’s Time to Prevent a Wider Crisis in Congo

The political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is rapidly intensifying, as the December 31 democratic transition deal is not being implemented by the Congolese government. And over one million people have been displaced from their homes in the past six months due to conflict in the Kasais region, which is closely linked to the national political crisis. International targeted sanctions provided much-needed leverage to the negotiations led by Congo’s Catholic bishops, which resulted in the Dec. 31 accord. It is time now for more pressure to get the democratic transition back on track.

The time is ripe for higher-level targeted sanctions in order to support implementation of the agreement and civil society’s demand for democratic transition.

The U.S. government and European Union should issue higher-level targeted sanctions and anti-money laundering measures to target key individuals who have strong influence on the Kabila regime. The aim of these measures would be to get the Congolese government to implement the December 31 accord and get the democratic transition process back on track. The main benchmarks from the accord — organizing free and fair elections in 2017, establishing an oversight committee for implementing the accord, releasing political prisoners and dropping trumped-up charges against them and activists in exile and restoring media outlets that are shut down – have yet to be implemented. The U.S. and E.U. should hold the government to these benchmarks and increase pressure if the government continues not to implement them. Now is the time to implement new pressures.

In 2016, the United States and the E.U. issued targeted sanctions against a total of nine Congolese military commanders and other individuals deemed most responsible for violent repression and other human rights abuses at a time when President Kabila was clinging to power beyond his constitutional term limits. While these sanctions focused mainly on military officers in the Congolese security forces, they did not yet affect those who profit most from high-level corruption in Congo and/or those who are obstructing the democratic process: key presidential advisors, heads of state owned enterprises, commercial partners inside or outside Congo, or members of the Kabila family.

Targeted sanctions on such individuals, their networks and/or companies, as well as their facilitators, would hit the pocketbooks of corrupt leaders and send an important political signal. They would also help alter their calculations and push the Congolese government toward getting the Dec. 31 agreement on track and to hold free and fair elections in 2017.

Take Action Now: Send a tweet to tell the leaders of the Senate and House Africa Subcommittees that now is the time for additional targeted sanctions for corrupt Congolese officials facilitating violence and obstructing democracy.

.@JeffFlake @SenBookerOffice @RepChrisSmith @RepKarenBass urge Admin: US targeted sanctions for #Congo needed ASAP