The European Union has renewed sanctions against the chosen successor of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, just two weeks before an historic election in the resource-rich Central African country.
Travel bans and asset freezes will be renewed for a year against Congo’s ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and 13 other people, the EU said on Monday.
Shadary was sanctioned by the EU last year for obstructing Congo’s electoral process and carrying out a crackdown against protesters angry over the long-delayed vote.
The decision, taken by EU foreign ministers in Brussels, could be reviewed “in the light of and following” the elections, scheduled for December 23.
Kabila’s adviser said the EU move is tantamount to election meddling.
“We have said it time and again. We believe those sanctions are politically motivated they are arbitrary and they are unjust,” said Kikaya Bin Karubi, Kabila’s special adviser. “And even more so, to renew them today, two weeks before the elections, what the European Union is doing is actually interfering in our electoral process.”
Raymond Tshibanda N’Tungammulongo, Congo’s foreign minister, has previously raised the sanctions issue with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.
He told reporters he had asked that the “illegal” sanctions be lifted on Shadary before the election, or at least be suspended for a “probationary period” as a compromise.
But Human Rights Watch also wrote to Mogherini late last month, appealing to her to ensure that the sanctions are renewed and even expanded.
“Less than one month before the scheduled election, the repression continues, those responsible for past abuses have not been held to account, and the enabling environment for credible elections does not exist,” the rights group wrote.