US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila addresses a news conference at the State House in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo January 26, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 June 2018
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US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

  • The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila
  • Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Thursday it had imposed visa bans on several senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo for corruption tied to the country’s electoral process to send a “strong signal” about the need for a peaceful transfer of power.
Washington declined to identify the individuals, saying it was not obligated to reveal them based on “foreign policy considerations.”
“Today’s actions send a strong signal that the US government is committed to fighting corruption, to supporting credible elections that lead to DRC’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power,” the State Department said.
The move comes before elections scheduled in DRC for Dec. 23. There are concerns, however, that President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, could delay the vote to seek a third elected term.
The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila.
Sasha Lezhnev, deputy policy director at the nonprofit rights group Enough Project called Thursday’s visa ban an important step “to dissuade Kabila from putting his name on the ballot and help ensure a credible election.”
“Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step,” said Lezhnev. “They or the businesses they partner with also use US banks to process corrupt commercial deals, so the US and EU should enact stronger sanctions on their corporate networks to target their assets.”


US backs Delhi’s right to self-defense over Kashmir attack: Indian government

Updated 5 min 51 sec ago
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US backs Delhi’s right to self-defense over Kashmir attack: Indian government

  • India’s government said it had evidence the group Jaish-e-Mohammad, had the backing of Pakistan and demanded Islamabad take action
  • India has for years accused Muslim Pakistan of backing separatist militants in divided Kashmir

NEW DELHI: The US supports India’s right to self-defense against cross-border attacks, India’s foreign ministry said on Saturday after a deadly car bombing in disputed Kashmir raised tensions with rival neighbor Pakistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a strong response after a Pakistan-based militant group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a military convoy on Thursday that killed 44 paramilitary policemen.
India’s government said it had evidence the group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), had the backing of Pakistan and demanded Islamabad take action. Pakistan has condemned the attack and rejected India’s allegations.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Friday night, promising to help bring those behind the attack to justice, the foreign ministry said in a readout of the phone call.
“The two NSAs vowed to work together to ensure that Pakistan cease to be a safe haven for JeM and terrorist groups that target India, the US and others in the region,” the foreign ministry said.
“They resolved to hold Pakistan to account for its obligations under UN resolutions,” it added.
India has for years accused Muslim Pakistan of backing separatist militants in divided Kashmir, which the neighbors both claim in full but rule in part.
Pakistan denies that, saying it only offers political support to the Himalayan region’s suppressed Muslim people.
Modi, who is facing an election in the next few months, has called a meeting of political parties on Saturday to build support for action against Pakistan.
Indians have poured onto social media to vent their fury over the suicide bombing in Kashmir, with many of them calling for swift retribution against Pakistan as TV news shows hosted jingoistic debates.
When he swept to power at the head of a Hindu nationalist-led alliance in 2014, Modi vowed to pursue a tough line with Pakistan. The two countries have gone to war three times since independence from Britain in 1947, twice over Kashmir.
The attack comes at a difficult time for Pakistan, which is struggling to attract foreign investment and avert a payments crisis, with its swiftly diminishing foreign currency reserves at less than $8 billion, equivalent to two months of import payments.