They join seven other people targeted by EU sanctions in December over "obstruction of the electoral process and related human rights violations" in the central African state, where President Joseph Kabila has refused to step aside.

DR Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende, who is also targeted by the EU.
DR Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende, who is also targeted by the EU.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Monday on nine more officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo over "obstruction of the electoral process and related human rights violations" in the central African state, where President Joseph Kabila has overstayed his mandate.

The people targeted by asset freezes and travel bans "hold positions of responsibility in the state administration and in the chain of command of the security forces," the EU said in a statement.

The nine include government spokesman, current and former interior minister, and officers of the security forces.

They join seven people targeted by EU sanctions in December after clashes with protesters against Kabila last year left more than 50 people dead.

"This will not be without consequences. There will be a reaction," said government spokesman Lambert Mende, one of those targeted.

EU wants Congo to hold election

The EU said Congo should hold an election as soon as possible, and expressed concern about excessive use of force by state authorities in managing the security crisis, as well as restrictions on media and bans on demonstrations.

Among the new listings were Evariste Boshab, a close ally of Kabila as his former interior and security minister, and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari, who holds the job currently and oversees the police.

Also blacklisted were Kalev Mutondo, the head of intelligence; and General Eric Ruhorimbere, a commander in central Congo's Kasai region, where the army has been accused of using disproportionate force to put down an insurrection.

Government denounces sanctions

Congo's government has repeatedly denounced earlier sanctions imposed by the EU and US as unjustified and illegal, and has threatened diplomatic retaliation.

Political tension in Democratic Republic of Congo is running high after security forces killed dozens during protests over election delays last year.

Kabila, in power since 2001, refused to step down and hold a national vote after his mandate expired in December.

He has blamed election delays on budgetary constraints and the challenge of registering millions of voters.

The president struck a deal with the opposition at the end of last year to hold elections by the end of 2017, but talks to implement the agreement broke down in March.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies