The United States has imposed sanctions on two senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo in an apparent warning to President Joseph Kabila to respect the constitution of the vast, unstable African country and call elections later this year.
The new sanctions target Maj Gen Gabriel Amisi Kumba and John Numbi, a former senior police official. Any financial assets they have in the US are blocked and Americans are generally barred from engaging in financial transactions with them.
The decision to sanction the pair followed “increasing indications that the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to suppress political opposition in the country, often through violent means”, the US Treasury said in a statement.
Both men are members of Kabila’s inner circle, and are believed to be among those who have encouraged the president to take a hard line against local protesters.
About 50 people died in clashes between security forces and protesters
The DRC has suffered repeated bouts of unrest since Kabila, 45, announced that the polls would be delayed.
Last week about 50 people died in clashes between security forces and protesters angered by what opposition groups charge is Kabila’s plan to retain power unlawfully through the indefinite postponement of a vote.
Supporters of Kabila, whose second term in office expires in December, say logistical and financial constraints mean it is impossible to hold fair polls as planned.
Amisi oversees security forces in four provinces, including Kinshasa. Units under his command “reportedly have engaged in violent repression of political demonstrations”, including January 2015 protests in which at least 42 people died, the announcement said.
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