A United States Congressman, Rep Eliot Engel, has said that the political space of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was shrinking under president Joseph Kabila.
His comments follows the refusal of the DRC to renew the visa of a senior researcher with international rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Ida Sawyer’s expulsion from DRC is indicative of the shrinking political space under President Kabila,” Engel tweeted.
Ida is seen as a vocal critic of the ongoing crackdown on dissent in the DRC where political tensions keep rising as an election deadline approaches. It is unclear whether the president would step down when his tenure ends in December.
Locking up Congolese activists and forcing international rights monitors out of the country are the tactics of abusive governments.
Speaking on the visa refusal, HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth said in a statement that the Kabila government was trying to muzzle reporting on brutal repression of political opponents:
“This is about more than forcing Ida Sawyer out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but is a brazen attempt to muzzle reporting on the government’s brutal repression of those supporting presidential term limits.
Locking up Congolese activists and forcing international rights monitors out of the country are the tactics of abusive governments,” he said.