Britain mulls EU sanctions on DRC 'repression'

2016-05-13 21:37
DRC President Joseph Kabila. (AFP)

DRC President Joseph Kabila. (AFP)

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Kinshasa - Britain may seek EU sanctions against those to blame for "acts of repression" in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a British envoy said on Friday.

She was speaking after DRC's Constitutional Court ruled that President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, can stay in office beyond 2016 without being re-elected. The ruling on Wednesday sparked fierce protests from the country's main opposition party.

"We are talking to our European colleagues about targeted sanctions against those responsible for actions or decisions involving violence against citizens and intimidation of the opposition," said Danae Dholakia, Britain's special envoy to Africa's Great Lakes region.

"The position of the United Kingdom is that the people responsible for acts of repression or violence will take responsibility for their actions or decisions," said Dholakia.

The British envoy referred to the legal woes of Moise Katumbi, an opposition candidate for elections in theory due before the end of the year, who was investigated for about 10 days about the alleged recruitment of mercenaries.

"I sincerely hope that recent accusations made against Moise Katumbi ... are not an extension of political restrictions" in DRC, which western countries and the UN have condemned for several months, she added.

Tension has been growing for months in the DRC because of what the opposition alleges are Kabila's efforts to cling on to power.

In office since 2001, when he took over on his father's assassination, Kabila was elected president in 2006 and 2011, but is constitutionally barred from standing for a third term.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court, responding to a request for clarification by the ruling party, said Kabila could stay in office if presidential elections this year fail to be held on schedule, as is widely expected.

The opposition has called on Kabila to ensure that the ballot is held on time, although no date has yet been announced for the polls, which look increasingly likely to be delayed.

"There are lots of red flashing lights," said Dholakia. "The risks of events diverting from constitutional order are real," he added.


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