U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Michael Hammer on Monday called on Europe to keep up sanctions, as Washington has done, imposed on 14 Congolese personalities close to ex-President Joseph Kabila who were implicated in human rights violations between 2015 and 2018.
Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Hammer said the United States had a policy of imposing sanctions on people who are corrupt, commit gross human rights violations or disrupt the democratic process. In the case of the DRC, this relates to the period before general elections held on 30 December 2018.
Hammer added that the sanctions policy remained in place, that sanctions would continue to be imposed on those targeted and, should the U.S. receive information on other persons, they would be added to the list.
The U.S. diplomat, who is in Belgium for consultations with Belgian and EU officials following a visit last week to the U.S. Army’s Africa command, AFRICOM, in Stuttgart, Germany, said he hoped EU and other countries engaged bilaterally with the DRC felt the same way.
The EU decided to freeze the visas and assets of 14 Congolese officials in December 2016 and again in late May 2017.
Ambassador Hammer also expressed support for the efforts made by new Congolese President Etienne Tshisekedi – proclaimed the winner of the disputed election of 30 December 2018 – to fight corruption, open up political space and bring peace to the east of the DRC, wracked by upheavals for decades.
“We are seeing change, our aim is to work with the Tshisekedi Government,” Hammer stressed, while insisting on the “international support” the former opposition leader has received since coming to power without any shedding of blood.