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EU extends sanctions against DRC presidential hopeful

Brussels, Monday

The EU on Monday extended sanctions against DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s designated successor and 13 others for human rights violations, two weeks ahead of landmark elections.

After two years of delays, mineral-rich but unstable Congo is set to hold presidential, legislative and municipal elections on December 23, with Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (pictured) enjoying the backing of Kabila, who has ruled since 2001.

But Shadary will contest the poll under EU sanction, after the bloc extended the travel ban and asset freeze imposed on him over his role as interior minister in a crackdown on opposition activists.

The bloc rejected a call by Shadary in October to lift the sanctions, which he called “humiliating, degrading and disproportionate”. Foreign ministers from the 28 EU states meeting in Brussels approved the extension of sanctions against Shadary and 13 other officials over “the obstruction of the electoral process and the related human rights violations”.

In a statement, the Council of the EU reiterated “the importance of holding credible and inclusive elections in line with the aspiration of the Congolese people to elect their representatives”.    

The vote is crucial for a deeply troubled country which has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Eastern Congo is ravaged by decades-long ethnic bloodshed and militia violence, as well as a deadly Ebola outbreak, testing a large UN peacekeeping mission deployed in the country.     

The 47-year-old Kabila’s final term of office ended nearly two years ago but he has stayed in power thanks to a caretaker clause in the constitution.   -AFP

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