Washington DC — A new bipartisan Congressional bill introduced this week that seeks to support free and fair elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo was approved today by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill comes as current Congo President Joseph Kabila considers running for a third term, in violation of Congo’s constitutional two-term limit, and with other warning signs that elections will not be credible.
John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry said: “An unambiguous and timely message from the US Congress could impact the calculations of Joseph Kabila as he considers running again for president in violation of the constitution. Congress can reinforce the need for biting sanctions and anti-money laundering measures led by the US Treasury Department, the best vehicle for creating leverage for democracy and human rights in Congo.”
Co-sponsored by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Karen Bass (D-CA), the Democratic Republic of the Congo Democracy and Accountability Act of 2018 (H.R. 6207) cites U.S. security concerns over “election-related political instability, endemic corruption, armed conflict, gross human rights abuses, and humanitarian crises, which destabilizes the region and causes massive human suffering.”
Hani Garabyare, Senior Advocacy Manager at the Enough Project, said: “We applaud Representatives Royce, Engel, Smith and Bass for coming together to address the urgent crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and hope this bill gains widespread support throughout Congress. This bipartisan legislation sends a clear message that democracy is in the hands of the Congolese people and the United States will work to ensure that Congo’s electoral process is credible.
The bill requires the Administration to send a list of senior DRC political figures to Congress who meet sanctions criteria, as well as calling for U.S. action to support credible and transparent elections, freedom of the press, expression, and right to assembly in order to “ensure free and fair presidential elections in accordance with the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Congress is sending a strong message to Congo’s Kabila that unless there is a successful democratic transfer of power through a credible election process, it will require new sanctions and other financial consequences for his inner circle and the companies they control. This bill is a powerful new tool to make that happen and strongly support democracy and human rights in Congo.”
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The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.