The United States (US) has chided the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government over the physical and verbal abuse the US special envoy to the Great Lakes region suffered at the Kinshasa airport.
Tom Porriello was leaving the DRC after 10 days of political engagement with political and civil society stakeholders in the country.
‘‘The United States is also outraged and deeply disturbed by the physical obstruction and verbal aggression aimed at U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa Tom Perriello while he was departing from the Kinshasa airport on September 18,’‘ a statement from the depratment of state read.
U.S. statement: Alarm Over Protests and Harassment of the U.S. Special Envoy in the DRC pic.twitter.com/W5IBVuzn6W— U.S. Special Envoy (@US_SEGL) September 19, 2016
The US observed that despite the Special Envoy being a well-known figure in Kinshasa, he was blocked and verbally threatened in an area of Kinshasa’s N’djili Airport that is tightly secured by Congolese authorities.
‘‘The U.S. Government protests this treatment of its Envoy in the strongest possible terms,’‘ the statement added.
The US also tasked the DRC authorities to sanction any individuals who are responsible for perpetrating violence or repression, adding that the US ‘‘remains ready to impose additional targeted sanctions.’‘
Issues related to Monday’s violence
The US also expressed disappointed at the Democratic Republic of the Congo electoral commission’s (CENI) failure to announce an elections calendar today as called for by the DRC constitution.
‘‘We are also deeply alarmed by reports of violence that occurred alongside civic protests today in Kinshasa, and which reportedly has already resulted in the deaths of protestors and police,’‘ the statement said.
They condemned the violence and called upon all Congolese stakeholders to exercise restraint and avoid provocation, while reiterating that the DRC Government has the primary responsibility for protecting human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
According to the statement, Monday’s events underscored the need for a truly inclusive dialogue process aimed at reaching consensus on holding presidential elections as soon as technically feasible and guaranteeing the country’s first democratic transition of power.