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News > World

Congo Demands Departure of EU Ambassador Ahead of Elections

  • A man rides on the back of a vehicle near election banners in Kinshasa, Congo, Dec. 27, 2018.

    A man rides on the back of a vehicle near election banners in Kinshasa, Congo, Dec. 27, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 December 2018

The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared the European Union Ambassador Bart Ouvry an "unwelcome person."

Thursday Congo's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leonard She Okitundu, requested the departure of the European Union (EU) Ambassador Bart Ouvry within 48 hours. This request was made alleging reciprocity for the European Council's sanctions against Congolese high officers, including presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

DR Congo: Three Opposition Strongholds Excluded from Elections

"We have patiently waited and to this day, have had no response and the sanctions were renewed by the European Council in Dec. 2018," Okintundu said, adding that "the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo asks the European Council to immediately recall its chief of mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, within the next 48 hours."

This announcement comes after the EU extended, for a year, the sanctions against 14 senior Congolese officials for "violations of human rights" and "obstruction of the electoral process."

The sanctions involve the freezing of funds and the prohibition of entry into any Schengen area countries.

"These sanctions... violate international law, undermine the fundamental rights and are condemned by regional and sub regional authorities of the African continent," Okintundu commented and recalled that "I have pleaded with the European Union on many occasions... to simply lift the disputed sanctions or, at the very least, to suspend them until after the Democratic Republic of Congo's general election."

The European Council issued sanctions against seven officers from the police, the intelligence service and the army, on Dec. 12, 2016, for "obstructing a peaceful and consensual solution for elections."

On May 29, 2017, EU extended these sanctions to other people, among them are the current Communication Minister Lambert Memde and the former Deputy Prime Minister Evariste Boshab.

Due to the extension of the sanctions, no European observation mission will be present during Congo's general elections, which were postponed until Dec. 30.

In order to find President Joseph Kabila's successor, 21 candidates are officially registered to participate in the elections. President Kabila appointed Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as an official candidate, who was his deputy prime minister and head of the interior.

The opposition comes in two great coalitions: one led by anti-Kabila national deputy Martin Fayulu, who is backed by popular politicians like Jean-Pierre Bemba; and the other is led by Felix Tshisekedi, president of the main opposition party and son of Étienne Tshisekedi, the historical opponent of Kabila.

The elections should have been held in December 2016 after the expiration of Kabila's second term in office. However, the polls have been delayed several times since then due to "technical problems." 

On Dec. 26, the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the vote in three cities until the month of March 2019, preventing 1.2 million voters from going to the polls Sunday.

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