It’s just 10 days before the deadline marking the end of President Joseph Kabila’s constitutionally limited second term, and the DR Congo leader has given no indication of a plan to step down.
The situation has led to intensifying repression of the political opposition, journalists and activists, and now a coalition of 72 Congolese and 15 international human rights organizations has appealed to the West to expand targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization announced late Thursday.
“Imposing targeted sanctions on senior officials, especially before December 19, could help walk Congo back from the brink and deter further violent repression,” explained Me Georges Kapiamba, president of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ). “Such action would show that with each passing day, the consequences for the government will be greater.”
Earlier sanctions imposed by the United States were an effective deterrent, the organizations said, as they appealed for similar sanctions against senior DR Congo officials implicated in rights violations. The measures include travel bans, asset freezes and blocking of financial transactions and accounts.
In November, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Union to urgently implement targeted sanctions. The EU plans to discuss the DR Congo situation next week.
The international community, including United Nations Security General Ban Ki-Moon, has remained guardedly optimistic that Kabila will continue talks with the Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO). The influential Catholic Church leaders seek to mediate the dialogue and deliver a deal between Kabila and his political opponents.
Opposition leaders have called for demonstrations if President Kabila stays in office beyond December 19, a cause for concern because security forces have been quick to use lethal force in the past.
“If this is settled on the streets, it will be a disaster for the people of Congo,” said Tom Perriello, U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, during a hearing last week.
For a complete list of the organizations supporting the targeted sanctions, see the HRW link.
Image: Democratie Chretienne, DC