The European Union on Monday approved a one-year extension on sanctions placed against 14 people for human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the hand-picked presidential candidate and close ally of outgoing President Joseph Kabila.
Emmanel Ramazani Shadary, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) candidate supported through a Kabila coalition called Common Front for Congo (CFC), was named to the EU sanctions list in May 2017. The Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Security under Kabila was identified by the EU as the person “officially responsible for the police and security services and coordinating the work of provincial governors,” including violent crackdowns in Kinshasa and Kongo Central.
The sanctions mean an asset freeze and a ban on entering the European Union, and were initially adopted “in response to the obstruction of the electoral process” and other violations in DR Congo. They came as Kabila stubbornly refused to step aside after a constitutionally determined second term in 2016, with elections postponed since that time.
Kabila announced he would not stand for elections in August, with Shadary getting the nod. Congolese are preparing to go to the polls on December 23.
“In its decision, considering the upcoming elections, the Council reaffirms the importance of holding credible and inclusive elections in line with the aspiration of the Congolese people to elect their representatives,” the EU said in its new decision. “The Council will further review the restrictive measures in the light of and following the elections in the DRC and stands ready to adjust them accordingly.”
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, speaking on behalf of the EU last month, urged the DR Congo to take advantage of a “historic opportunity” to hold its first democratic and peaceful transfer of power. The EU does not have access as official election observers but warned it will be watching closely.
“The holding of inclusive, transparent, credible and peaceful elections will be important for the EU’s future engagement with the democratically elected authorities in the DRC for the future development of the country in the interest of the Congolese people,” Mogherini said.
Image: PPRD file