Friday, September 30, 2016

DR Congo Lashes Out at US Over Sanctions
September 30, 2016

KINSHASA – The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo accused the United States in a statement on Thursday of sowing “chaos”, after Washington placed two top allies of President Joseph Kabila on its sanctions blacklist.

The US Treasury on Wednesday said both the men it blacklisted were involved in violently putting down opposition to President Kabila and undermining democratic forces in the country.

“It is clear, if we look back at history, that this pattern is similar to the one that led to chaos in nations like Libya and South Sudan, which now face extinction,” Lambert Mende, the spokesperson of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government, said in a statement.

The US Treasury said on Wednesday that Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, a commander of the armed forces, led units that have violently repressed political demonstrations in several provinces including Kinshasha.

Also hit with sanctions was General John Numbi, a former national inspector in the police and a close advisor of Kabila.

“In light of these shameless initiatives… regarding these officers, the government wonders about the US authorities’ logic and motivations,” Mende added.

The sanctions, which ban US individuals and businesses from dealings with the two men, came days after dozens of demonstrators were killed in anti-government protests.

Under a new constitutional regime in 2006, Kabila was elected to the position with a two-term limit, which should expire in December.

However, the government has not yet scheduled new elections, giving rise to fears that he will not step down.

Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday ordered families of government personnel stationed in the Democratic Republic of Congo to leave amid fears about escalating violence, the State Department said.

“The potential for civil unrest is high in parts of Kinshasa and other major cities,” it said, referring to the country’s capital in a travel warning.

“As a result of the deteriorating security situation, family members of US government personnel have been ordered to leave the country beginning September 29. Most official US government travel to the DRC has been halted.”

It noted that violent clashes this month between security forces and opposition protesters over the electoral process had resulted in deaths and the destruction of property.

“Very poor transportation infrastructure throughout the country and poor security conditions make it difficult for the US Embassy to provide consular services anywhere outside of Kinshasa,” it added.

Last week’s clashes left dozens dead in Kinshasa, where opposition groups were demanding the resignation of President Joseph Kabila.

He has ruled since 2001, and the constitution bars him from running for a third term. Although his current term ends on December 20, no date for new elections has been announced and there are fears he plans to stay in power.

The State Department warned travellers that armed groups, bandits and some elements of the Congolese military “kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, steal vehicles, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians can be indiscriminately targeted.”

The US Treasury on Wednesday said both the men were involved in violently putting down opposition to Kabila and undermining democratic forces in the country.


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