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U.S. Slaps Sanctions on DRC Army Generals

Kabila and military commanders visit a war zone in Eastern Congo during combat operations against M23 rebels in 2013

United States has imposed sanctions on two senior army officers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for crushing what officials described as “threatening the stability of and undermining democratic processes” in the vast country.

Gabriel Amisi (known as “Tango Four”), search http://coogomezplata.com/components/com_k2/views/comments/tmpl/report.php army commander of the country’s western region, hospital and John Numbi, a former national police inspector, have in recent months been implicated in gross human rights abuses.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Wednesday night said it took targeted action against the army officers “following increasing indications that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to suppress political opposition in the country, often through violent means.”

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Specifically, OFAC designated John Numbi for engaging in actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the DRC, and Gabriel Amisi Kumba for being the leader of an armed group that has threatened the peace, security, or stability of the DRC.

As a result, all of the designated individuals’ assets within U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

“These current and former Democratic Republic of the Congo government officials have engaged in actions that undermine democratic processes in the DRC and repress the political rights and freedoms of the Congolese people, risking further and more widespread instability in the DRC, and the broader Great Lakes region,” said John E. Smith, Acting OFAC Director.

“Today’s action builds on the United States’ continued commitment to disrupt this destructive behavior and foster a better and more stable future for the DRC and the Congolese people.  Today’s action is not directed at the people of DRC.  It is intended to alter the behavior of the targeted individuals.”

Since January 2015, Congolese government officials and security forces have carried out a brutal campaign of repression against people who opposed attempts to extend President Joseph Kabila’s presidency beyond the constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ends on December 19.

According to Human Rights Watch, the officials arrested scores of activists and opposition leaders and supporters, repeatedly banned opposition demonstrations, shut down media outlets, prevented opposition leaders from moving freely around the country, and fired on peaceful protesters.

Government repression reached new heights during the week of September 18, when Congolese across the country took to the streets to protest election delays.

In Kinshasa, security forces fatally shot at least 50 people and detained scores of others.

The security forces took away some of the bodies, witnesses reported, in an apparent effort to hide the evidence and prevent families from organizing funerals.

The Congolese are protesting plans to extend the general elections to next year, saying it would imply President Joseph Kabila’s stay in power.

Kabila’s allies say the country needs more time to clean up the voters’ register ahead of the polls.

Profiles:

Gabriel Amisi Kumba

Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba (Amisi) is a Commander in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).

He is the leader of FARDC units in the First Defense Zone, which covers the provinces of Bandudu, Bas Congo, Equateur, and Kinshasa.

These units have reportedly engaged in violent repression of political demonstrations.  Increasing violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly have been reported in the western provinces, particularly in Kinshasa.  FARDC soldiers have used excessive force and lethal weapons during demonstrations and political rallies, particularly during demonstrations organized by opposition leaders and civil society actors in January 2015.

 In August 2014, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) reportedly denounced the fact that no judicial investigation had been opened against Amisi.

John Numbi

 General John Numbi (Numbi) is the former National Inspector for the Congolese National Police.  During the March 2016 gubernatorial elections in the DRC’s four ex-Katangan provinces, Numbi used violent intimidation to secure victories for candidates affiliated with President Kabila’s MP coalition. 

Numbi threatened to kill opposition candidates who did not voluntarily withdraw from the race, and on the same day these exchanges purportedly took place, three candidates withdrew. 

Numbi also reportedly gave provincial deputies a unique numeric code to write on each of their ballots so he could verify their votes after the election. 

Though he is no longer a DRC Government official, Numbi is reportedly an influential advisor to President Kabila.

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