By Amos Fofung
Three top officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Independent Electoral Commission, CENI have been sanctioned by the United States.
The US Department of the Treasury on March 22, sanction three senior officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The sanctions are permitted by an executive order signed by former president George W. Bush that authorizes sanctions on “Certain Persons Contributing to the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
The officials charged with overseeing elections in the central African state were sanctioned due to allegations that they embezzled funds that were supposed to be used to organize elections and also for postponing the 2016 presidential elections to 2018 for personal gains.
The sanctions which came out last Thursday’s sanctions target the president of the electoral commission Corneille Yobeluo Nangaa, his Vice, Norbert Basengezi Katintima, and adviser Marcellin Mukolo Basengezi.
All three are accused of stealing funds that were supposed to be used for holding a presidential election in December 2016, but forced the vote to be postponed until December 2018.
It is also alleged that they conspired to inflate the cost of the contract to supply voting machines by as much as $100 million and used the excess for personal gain, pay bribes, and fund the campaign for outgoing President Joseph Kabila’s favored candidate.
A Press release from the treasury department dubbed; “Treasury Sanctions Congolese Officials Responsible for Undermining DRC Elections” said the action “follows persistent corruption by senior officials within the DRC’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and the former Kabila Government to obstruct and delay preparations for credible and inclusive elections.”
Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said “we stand with the Congolese people who went to the polls on December 30 but remain concerned about a flawed electoral process in which, following the presidential election, CENI continued to obstruct the democratic process and failed to ensure the vote reflected the will of the Congolese people.”
“The United States will continue to assist those who seek to root out credible allegations of corruption but will not hesitate to leverage our authorities to impose tangible and significant consequences on malign actors in the DRC and around the world that undermine the democratic process and traffic in corruption.”
They trio been accused of facilitating the former president, Joseph Kabila’s stay in power for two extra years. At the time of this report, the accused were yet to comment on the charges and accusations.