EU prepares sanctions on Congo over violence, political crisis

EU foreign ministers paved the way Monday for sanctions against Congo, which has been gripped by violence amid a political crisis in light of upcoming presidential elections.

Mass protests have taken place in recent weeks. Dozens of people have also been killed after election authorities postponed planned November polls. They are now scheduled for April 2018.

The Congolese opposition is concerned that President Joseph Kabila, whose second term in office ends on December 19, is trying to extend his time in power. According to the current constitution, he cannot run for a third term.

"The EU will use all the means at its disposal, including individualrestrictive measures" against people who commit serious human rights violations, promote violence or try to obstruct efforts to resolve the crisis, ministers said in a statement.

They called on EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to prepare such steps.

"If the current presidential term comes to an end without prior agreement on the electoral calendar, the EU will have to consider the impact on its relations with the government of the DRC," they added, expressing deep concern at the situation.

DRC is an abbreviation for the Congo's full name, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The government must ensure the respect of human rights and the rule of law and "cease all use of the justice system as a political tool," the statement said, expressing concern about a large number of arrests following opposition protests last month.

The ministers also expressed "profound concern" about recent violence in the east of the country, and called on the United Nations to consider imposing sanctions in response to serious human rights violations.

Last update: Mon, 17/10/2016 - 14:22

More from World

Iraq announces operation to retake western Mosul from Islamic State

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Sunday the start of a military operation to drive Islamic State from...

Colombia's FARC rebels ready to hand in their weapons

The last of Colombia's leftist FARC rebels entered the country's newly created transition zones on Saturday ahead of...

Mass drug overdose at Melbourne dance festival

More than 20 people were hospitalized, many in a critical condition, after overdosing on drugs at a Melbourne dance...

Trump attacks media, touts own progress at campaign-style rally

US President Donald Trump launched a fresh attack on the media and renewed his pre-election promises on Saturday at...

Turkish PM scoffs at claims of 'one-man system' on visit to Germany

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Saturday poured scorn on accusations that potential reforms to Turkey's...