Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday told the EU to recall its envoy in retaliation for sanctions against 14 officials, including President Joseph Kabila’s champion in elections three days away.
“The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo urges the European Council to proceed without fail in recalling its head of mission within 48 hours,” Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu said.
On December 10, European Union foreign ministers extended a travel ban and asset freeze on 14 figures over “the obstruction of the electoral process and the related human rights violations.”
The 14 include Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister chosen by Kabila to be the candidate for his succession in elections on Sunday.
Kabila took office in 2001 at the age of just 29 after succeeding his assassinated father, Laurent-Desire Kabila.
He was due to step down at the end of 2016 after reaching his constitution-limited two terms in office.
But he stayed on, invoking a caretaker clause in the constitution that enables a president to stay in office until a successor is elected.
Protests broke out that were bloodily repressed, leading to scores of deaths.
She Okitundu made the announcement from the foreign ministry, where he earlier called in western diplomats, including EU head of mission Bart Ouvry, a Belgian national.
He said the DRC had “patiently” sought to persuade the EU to either drop or suspend the sanctions “until the elections in the DRC had been held.”
But this had failed, leading to “unilaterally-taken measures” by Brussels, he said.
“This measure (by the DRC) on one side punishes the reprehensible behaviour (of the EU) and on the other comes under the framework of reciprocity,” he said.