US ready to impose sanctions on people delaying Congo vote

President Joseph Kabila
Updated 12 July 2017

US ready to impose sanctions on people delaying Congo vote

UNITED NATIONS: The US said Tuesday it is ready to impose sanctions on anyone in Congo who stands in the way of presidential elections to be held by the end of the year, which would lead to the country’s first democratic transition of power.
Congo law bars President Joseph Kabila seeking another term but allows him to remain in power until another election can be held. The vote was once scheduled for November 2016, but it was delayed until no later than Dec. 31 this year under an agreement reached last New Year’s Eve.
The head of Congo’s electoral commission announced Friday that it would not be possible to organize a presidential ballot by Dec. 31, drawing sharp criticism Tuesday from members of the UN Security Council who insisted the election take place on time.
US Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison went a step further, demanding that Congo’s electoral commission immediately specify a date for the presidential election. She declared that “election delays cannot continue” and vowed US action if voting does not take place on time.
The US has already imposed sanctions on those who “delay and obstruct” implementation of the New Year’s Eve agreement, Sison said, and the Trump administration is “ready to take additional action to sanction those who stand in the way” of the presidential election.
“The international community must step up and apply more pressure,” not only on Kabila but on the National Independent Electoral Commission, to ensure that voting occurs by Dec. 31, she said.
Sison said the Security Council should also consider targeted sanctions on those people responsible for undermining peace and security in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, the country’s official name.
“Thus far, stakeholders have felt few consequences for perpetuating instability,” she said.
UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said implementation of the election agreement remains slow and inadequate, and he warned that, “unless political actors demonstrate good faith and political will, the DRC is set to enter another potentially precarious period.”
Lacroix said that during closed Security Council consultations following an open meeting, all 15 council members agreed that, “implementation in full and in good faith of the Dec. 31 agreement is absolutely vital for the future of the DRC.”
He expressed serious concern over recent attacks and instability in eastern Congo as well as violence in the Kasai provinces in the west that “has reached very disturbing levels with killings, daily reports of human rights violations and abuses and discovery of mass graves.”
Lacroix said the UN peacekeeping mission has established a small and mobile presence in various locations in the Kasais to help protect civilians and in those spots “we’ve been able to bring back a measure of stability.”
But, he added, “the current political impasse, the rising insecurity and the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in the DRC require a concerted response from regional and international partners” aimed at bringing a successful transition and the holding of free elections.
Meanwhile, investigations into the killing of two UN experts have led to 11 new arrests, including eight people identified as “having played a direct role” in the murders, Congo’s ambassador to the UN said Tuesday.
Ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita assured the UN Security Council that “justice will be delivered” for the two experts and for the four Congolese men accompanying them, whose bodies have never been found.
Congolese authorities said in late May that they had 16 suspects in the March deaths of American Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan of Sweden in the violence-torn Kasai region.
Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said in June that four people had been arrested who were considered “the principal actors.”
The UN is conducting an inquiry, but US Ambassador Nikki Haley called on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last month to initiate a special investigation into the killings.


China raises flood alert to second highest level

Updated 12 July 2020

China raises flood alert to second highest level

  • Regional flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi has made water levels of China’s Lake Poyang surge to above 22.52 meters
BEIJING/SINGAPORE: China on Sunday raised its flood response alert to the second highest grade as downpours continued to batter regions along the Yangtze River, with the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Jiangxi among the worst hit, state media reported.
Regional flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi has made water levels of China’s Lake Poyang, its biggest freshwater lake, surge to above 22.52 meters, a historical high and well above the alert level of 19.50 meters.
By Saturday evening, provincial military authorities had dispatched thousands of soldiers to help bolster nearly 9 km (6 miles) of the lake’s banks to prevent them from bursting, state television said.
China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with level one representing the most severe.
Citing data from the Ministry of Water Resources, 212 rivers have since early July exceeded alerting levels including 19 of them rising to historical highs.
China has blamed extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change for the torrential rain that has since June hit large swathes of the country and caused over 60 billion yuan ($8.57 billion) of economic losses.