U.S Announces Visa Restrictions Against Congolese Electoral Commission Officials

Head of Congo's Electoral Commission, Corneille Nangaa.

GOMA – The United States has announced it will refuse visas to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission boss and top judge on charges that they undermined presidential polls of last year.

The presidential election last December saw Felix Tshisekedi becoming a president replacing outgoing President Joseph Kabila.

The U.S. said in statement issued on Friday it would refuse visas to five senior figures of electoral commission known as CENI as well as their immediate family members over “involvement in significant corruption relating to the election process.”

“These individuals enriched themselves through corruption, or directed or oversaw violence against people exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

They operated with impunity at the expense of the Congolese people and showed blatant disregard for democratic principles and human rights,” it said.

It emphasized that the actions announced are specific to certain officials and not directed at the Congolese people or the newly elected government.

“This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the new DR Congo government to realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy and accountability, and respect for human rights.”

The Secretary of State is also imposing visa restrictions on military as well as government officials believed to be responsible for, complicit in, or to have engaged in human rights violations or abuses or undermining of the democratic process in DR Congo.

“The United States stands with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo following that country’s historic transfer of power,” it said.

“The elections reflect the desire of the people of the DR Congo for change and accountable government institutions. However, there are legitimate concerns over the conduct and transparency of the electoral process.”

Responding to US sanctions, CENI rejected all allegations and defended elections which “allowed first peaceful and democratic transfer of power between an outgoing president and an elected president.”

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