World / Africa & Diaspora
Thursday, 13 Jul 2017 13:31 EATakipchumba@kenyafreepress.com
The US government has threatened to impose unilateral sanctions on whoever is planning to delay the Democratic Republic of Congo’s elections.
The threat comes hot on the heels of the Sunday pronouncements by the DRC’s electoral commission that the voting was unlikely to take place this year due to delays in registration of the millions of voters.
The poll, if held would see President Joseph Kabila who has been on the throne since 2001 replaced by a new leader due to be elected in the forthcoming elections. According to observers and political pundits, delayed preparations could have been orchestrated by the government for “obvious” reasons.
US notes that further delay could trigger additional unrest following anti-government street protests which were witnessed last year - when the security personnel killed dozens of civilians.
The opposition leaders have vehemently denounced the Sunday announcement by the electoral commission as a declaration of “war”.
In a statement delivered by the US Deputy Ambassador to UN, Washington has said it’s ready to take more action to sanction whoever impedes Democratic Republic of Congo’s first democratic transition of power.
“We’re ready to take additional action to sanction those who stand in the way of DRC’s first democratic transition of power,” US Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Michele Sison told the UN Security Council.
Washington imposed sanctions on the Congolese officials last year, blocking any financial assets in the US and barring Americans from engaging in financial transactions with them.
“The Security Council should also consider targeted sanctions to reduce the violence in the DRC and help pressure all stakeholders to play a more constructive role in moving the country forward,” the Consul said.
Kabila’s refusal to step down at the tail of his second term in December last year, has sparked street protests, in which, according to the Human Rights Watch reports, dozens of civilians have been killed. Militia violence also escalated across Congo, increasing fears that the country will slide back into the wars at the turn of the century that killed millions.
Under the agreement reached between President Kabila and the opposition leaders in Dec 31, 2016, Kabila who ascended to the power, is barred from changing the constitution to vie for a third term.
UN on Tuesday said that approximately 80,000 people have fled the intense fighting between the Congolese military and a new rebel coalition, the News Agency has reported.
As learnt by the Reuters, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the council that worsening violence had led to sharp increase of 26 per cent in the number of the displaced persons over the past two months to reach 1.3 million.
A UN commission of inquiry has been established to look into the killings in Kasai while a separate UN panel is preparing to release this month the findings of its investigations of the murder of two UN experts whose bodies were found in March after they were kidnapped by unknown people for weeks.
The commission will also investigate the reports of mass graves in Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the news reports, it is quite clear that if the situation is not addressed the country will plunge into the civil war.
Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press