EU slams Congo envoy expulsion

EU slams Congo envoy expulsion

The European Union has criticised the Democratic Republic of Congo’s decision to expel its ambassador, Bart Ouvry, calling the move “completely unjustified”, as the sprawling central African country’s presidential election begins.
An unnamed EU diplomat in Kinshasa was quoted saying; “We are not in the domain of diplomacy here. It’s all about a show of force, and the Congolese government sent a clear warning to the diplomatic community.”
Congo Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu told Brussels it had 48 hours to withdraw its representative in retaliation for sanctions against 14 Congolese figures, including President Joseph Kabila’s preferred candidate for the long-delayed election.
Kabila, in power since his father’s assassination in 2001, is due to step down after the election in a supposed milestone for the resource-rich but impoverished state plagued by tyrannical rule, slave labour, mass rape, coups, anarchy and civil war since independence from Belgium in 1960.
Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said: “Nothing can justify this arbitrary act … the EU would like to recall that [its] measures are linked to violations of human rights and obstacles created to peacefully exit the DRC from its crisis.”
The Belgian envoy, Ouvry, was told on live state-controlled television that he had to leave the country.
An EU spokesman said Brussels “regrets this decision and considers it as completely unjustified”.
“On the eve of a very challenging election in the DRC, such a decision can only be considered counterproductive,” he said.
On December 10, EU foreign ministers extended a travel ban and asset freeze on 14 prominent Congolese political figures over “the obstruction of the electoral process and the related human rights violations”.
On the list was Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former home-affairs minister chosen by Kabila to be his successor in today’s (Sunday) presidential election.
She Okitundu said Kinshasa had “patiently” sought to persuade the bloc to either drop or suspend the sanctions “until the election in the DRC had been held”.
But the appeals had been rejected and he said the expulsion of Ouvry “on one side punishes the reprehensible behaviour and on the other comes under the framework of reciprocity”.
Delayed several times, the election will be the country’s first presidential ballot in seven years although the tattered former Belgian colony has never seen a peaceful transfer of power.
Kabila said he would stick to constitutional term limits but he has not ruled out running again for president in 2023.

 

The DRC is a shocking example of African failure and colonial sin. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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