EU is preparing sanctions against DRC due to postponed election

Increased violence related to the postponed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo makes the western world react.

Last Monday, foreign ministers from the EU decided to prepare economic sanctions against the Democratic Republic of Congo unless the government holds its presidential election this year. The European Union justifies the sanctions with the current political situation and the extreme violence it has caused. According ministers from the European Union, the sanctions will primarily affect the people from president Joseph Kabila’s inner circle.

Joseph Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006 and was re-elected in 2011. In 2006, a new constitutional provision limited the presidency to a two-term limit, which means that Kabila’s presidency expires in 2016. He was due to step down as president in December, but authorities have decided to push back the election to April 2018. This means Kabila is running into his third term as president. According supporters of Kabila, logistical and financial constraints make it impossible to hold the intended polls in November. However, opponents claim the reason is to remain head of state.


Anti-Kabila demonstation. DRCONGO 2016. Source: TheEastAfrican


In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the struggle for power has been causing violent clashes and cruel acts for decades. Congo has always been a coveted land because if its immense economic resources. Currently, Eastern regions of the DRC are still at the mercy of about 50 armed groups that prevent from stability in the country. During the last couple of years, the country has become more stable due to multiple interventions by the UN.

However, the postponed election has threatened the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The announcement of the delayed election resulted in violent clashes between supporters and opponents of President Joseph Kabila. At least 50 people got killed in the capital Kinshasa last Monday, when the electoral authorities announced that the election would be delayed. Congo has never experienced a peaceful transfer of power since its independence in 1960.


Clashes in Kinshasa. DRCONGO 2016. Source: SimplyLuculent

A recently published UN report
highlights the need to protect political and civil rights ahead of key elections in DRC. The report focuses on the worrying clampdown on opposition, media and the civil population since the beginning of the year. It stresses the urgent need to guarantee political and civil rights in the country. In total, this report documents approximately 140 human rights violations linked to the electoral process. According to the UN, at least 649 people were arbitrarily arrested and detained in connection with the electoral process during the first nine months of the year. Threats, arbitrary arrests and detention have been targeting media workers, political opponents and civilians within the Congolese borders.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has made a statement in conjunction with the report saying; “I urge the Congolese authorities to ensure accountability for the very serious human rights violations documented in this report”.


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