21 March 2019

Congo-Kinshasa: U.S. Sanctions Top Congolese Election Officials

Photo: Cia Pak/UN Photo
Joseph Kabila Kabange, former president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the United Nations in 2018.

Washington, DC — Today (March 21, 2019), the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three senior Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officials.

OFAC designated three senior Congolese election commission (CENI) officials: Corneille Yobeluo Nangaa, CENI President; Norbert Basengezi Katintima, CENI Vice-President; and Katintima’s son, Marcellin Basengezi Mukolo, a high-level CENI advisor. This action follows the outcome of the December 2018 elections that is widely seen as undemocratic, and the result of an allegedly corrupt deal made behind the scenes. The sanctions also come amidst new reports of corruption in the Senate elections in the DRC, in which parliamentarians were allegedly paid bribes to vote for certain senators.

Sarah Gardiner, Investigative Analyst at The Sentry, said: "The U.S. Department of Treasury’s announcement of sanctions toward three electoral commission officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an important step in ensuring accountability for electoral fraud during Congo's December 2018 presidential election.  Today’s designations are also the first to be taken under the U.S. Congo sanctions program since February 2018.  The new U.S. sanctions are a step in the right direction, but if the U.S. is going to have an impact on systemic corruption in Congo, much more extensive financial pressure on corrupt actors is needed."

Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "Former President Kabila has formally left office, but it is clear that he and his inner circle still hold the keys to power in the Congolese government. Targeted sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, and prosecutions against Kabila's inner network, financial facilitators, and their networks of companies will be critical to create the political space needed for much-needed anti-corruption reforms that Congolese civil society is rightly pushing for."

The sanctions require blocking of the designated persons’ assets within U.S. jurisdiction, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

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