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EU warns DR Congo of more sanctions

Congolese President Joseph Kabila (C) refused to stand aside at the end of his term late 2016 © AFP/File / JUNIOR D.KANNAH

Brussels, Belgium, Mar 7 – The European Union on Monday warned the Democratic Republic of Congo it faces more EU sanctions if political and military leaders block a deal with the opposition on the country’s future.

European Union foreign ministers discussed DR Congo amid growing frustration with President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to stand aside at the end of his term late last year.

“The EU reminds political leaders and members of the security forces that it is ready to adopt new restrictive measures,” said the text of DR Congo conclusions prepared for the meeting.

The asset freeze and travel ban sanctions would target those “responsible for grave human rights violations, for inciting violence or obstructing a peaceful resolution of the crisis which respects the aspirations of the Congolese people to elect their representatives,” it said.

In December, the EU and the United States imposed sanctions on top DR Congo officials after clashes with protesters against Kabila in September left more than 50 people dead.

Kabila, who first took office in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent, holds onto power despite a transition agreement brokered by the Catholic church which provides for elections later this year.

Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi died on February 1, 2017, having left the Democratic Republic of Congo eight days earlier for medical care abroad © Belga/AFP/File / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

The EU foreign ministers said the December agreement should be honoured and expressed concern about growing violence in the huge, resource-rich but poor former Belgian colony.

The political situation has been complicated by the death of long-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi in Brussels last month after he played a key role in the negotiations with Kabila on the transition accord.

Tshisekedi’s brother Gerard Mulumba told Belgian broadcaster RTBF Monday that his brother’s body would remain in Belgium as the “political family categorically refuses” the site offered for his burial in Kinshasa.

DR Congo’s influential Catholic church meanwhile appealed for “patience” for talks aimed at ending the crisis.

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Donatien Nshole, the secretary general of the Episcopal Conference (CENCO), also urged the Rassemblement opposition grouping, which includes Tshisekedi’s party, to “remain united.”


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