Amidst escalating election crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, US, EU sanctions signal “enough is enough”
Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed Évariste Boshab, Vice Prime Minister and Interior Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kalev Mutond, Director of the country’s National Intelligence Agency (ANR) on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List. Further, the European Union placed targeted sanctions against seven senior security officers in Congo. The ANR has been known for using calculated intimidation tactics against civilians and committing serious human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests and disappearances. Boshab is a key member of President Joseph Kabila's inner circle.
Enough Project experts are available for comment and analysis.
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “The sanctions are a critical step to protect human rights and prevent wider violence in Congo. The U.S. Treasury Department should follow suit by enacting anti-money laundering measures to help stop corrupt transactions from taking place in U.S. dollars.”
Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The United States is ratcheting up the pressure ahead of a flashpoint on December 19th, when Kabila is supposed to step down. This next round of US sanctions says 'enough is enough' to individuals in the government who have committed abuses with impunity for far too long. Instead of waiting for the crisis to explode or waiting for others to act, the US is using prevention strategies. It's a show of support for thousands of people in Congo who are putting their lives on the line to demand their right to a new elected leader.”
John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “Now is a crucial time to prevent violence in Congo. Today's sanctions announcements are key, but the financial pressure should be further escalated if the Congolese government does not ensure an effective democratic transition ahead of December 19."
According to the country's constitution, President Kabila is due to step down on December 19. However, the government-led electoral commission announced that the elections will be delayed, potentially until 2018. Congolese civilians have taken to streets demanding President Kabila step down and hold elections, citing sanctions in particular as a tool the international community can use to support democracy and mitigate violence.
Today's measure makes five OFAC designations in total on high-level Congolese officials this year. In July, the Treasury Department sanctioned General Célestin Kanyama, the Police Commissioner of Kinshasa and in late September, it sanctioned General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, aka "Tango Fort," head of the First National Defense Zone and Major General John Numbi Banza Tambo, former Inspector General of the National Police.
Earlier today, the EU also imposed sanctions on seven high-level Congolese officials including: General Célestin Kanyama, General Gabriel Amisi, Major General John Numbi Banza Tambo, Ilunga Kampete, Commander of the Republican Guard; Ferdinand Ilunga Luyoyo, Commander of the Anti-Riot Unit of the National Police; Roger Kibelisa, Chief of Internal Security of the ANR; and Delphin Kaimbi, Chief of Military Intelligence.
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