The Democratic Republic of Congo’s communication minister Lambert Mende has said that the sanctions imposed by the US and EU, on several of the country’s high ranking officials are ‘illegal’ under international law.
#BREAKING EU sanctions against DR Congo officials are 'illegal': govt— AFP Africa (@AFPAfrica) December 12, 2016
He has said that the DRC government is going to appeal against them at the UN Security Council and ‘‘in several European courts’‘. The sanctions have however been welcomed by the Human Rights Watch.
On Tuesday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control slapped sanctions on Evariste Boshab and Kalev Mutondo, accusing them of suppressing political opposition and delaying political progress in the country, often through violent means.
US hits two Congo government officials – Evariste Boshab and Kalev Mutondo – with sanctions. https://t.co/A8k3s9FFDP— Muisyo® (@Muisyo_) December 13, 2016
“The Congolese government continues to undermine democratic processes in the DRC and repress the political rights and freedoms of the Congolese people, putting the long-term stability and prosperity of the country at risk,” said Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the US Department of the Treasury.
“Today’s designation is intended to alter the behaviour of the targeted individuals with the aim of fostering a better and more stable future for the DRC and the Congolese people.”
Washington says that both Boshab and Mutondo are key players in leading DRC President Kabila’s strategy to remain in power after December 19, when Kabila’s constitutional term officially ends.
According to The Citizen, Boshab introduced a bill before the DRC National Assembly in January 2015, to amend the electoral law in a manner that would delay elections and prolong President Kabila’s term beyond its constitutional limit.
Boshab also reportedly offered to pay National Assembly members for their votes. In December 2015, Boshab overstepped his authority by appointing commissioners for newly-created provinces in the DRC without holding elections.
In addition, he told officials that they should leave their posts if they supported the opposition and he has supported the neutralisation of opposition demonstrations, according to an email sent to the African News Agency (ANA) seen by The Citizen.
Kalev Mutondo (Kalev) has ordered officials to ensure that the DRC’s electoral process favoured Kabila’s Presidential Majority or “MP” political coalition.
He has ordered surveillance of the opposition and supported the neutralisation of opposition demonstrations and the extrajudicial arrest and detainment of opposition members, many of whom were reportedly tortured, the Treasury Department added.
Kalev stands accused of pressuring DRC authorities to act outside the scope of the law to thwart the political opposition, while directing support for Kabila’s “MP” political coalition using violent intimidation and government resources.
Additionally, Kalev may be linked to the illegal export of minerals from the DRC, concluded the Treasury Department press release.According to the IB Times, others targeted by the EU sanctions include:
- Commander of the Republican Guard (GR), Ilunga Kampete. He was said to be “involved in planning, directing, or committing acts that constitute serious human rights violations in DRC”.
- Commander of the first defence zone of Congolese Army (FARDC), Gabriel Amisi Kumba. Grounds for sanctions against him are the same as Kampete’s.
- Commander of the anti-riot body Légion Nationale d’Intervention of the Congolese National Police (PNC), Ferdinand Ilunga Luyoyo. Grounds for sanctions against him are the same as Kampete’s.
- Kinshasa Police Commissioner (PNC), Celestin Kanyama. Grounds for sanctions against him are the same as Kampete’s.
- Former Inspector-General of the Congolese National Police (PNC), John Numbi. He was found to be “responsible for obstructing a consensual and peaceful solution towards elections in DRC”.
- Director of the National Intelligence Service (ANR), Roger Kibelisa. He faced the action after undermining “the rule of law and obstructed a consensual and peaceful solution towards elections in DRC”.
- Head of Military Intelligence Body (ex-DEMIAP), Delphin Kaimbi. He is “responsible for forces that participated in intimidation and arbitrary arrests, which obstructs a consensual and peaceful solution towards elections in DRC”.