Kinshasa rejects US 'terrorist threat' warning

Tuesday November 27 2018

 

By Bienvenu-Marie BAKUMANYA

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday accused Washington of sparking "needless fear" after the US embassy in Kinshasa warned of a "possible terrorist threat" against its mission in the country ahead of a key election.

"You have to distrust information coming from people who want to spread needless fear and uncertainty among the Congolese a few days before elections," government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP.

The conflict-prone central African country heads to the polls on December 23 to elect a successor to longtime President Joseph Kabila as well as lawmakers for national and provincial parliaments.

"Now that the holding of three elections on December 23, 2018, is a certainty, those who have no control over the electoral process in the DRC are trying to distract the Congolese," said Mende, who is also the country's communications minister.

- 'Credible, specific' -

The embassy on Saturday cited "credible and specific information of a possible terrorist threat against US government facilities in Kinshasa", which were closed on Monday.

Relations between Kinshasa and the West have been strained under Kabila, and DRC's electoral commission Ceni said Monday that no EU or US observers would be invited to oversee the poll.

"There will be no invitations for EU observers or from the Carter Center," a Ceni official said, referring to former US president Jimmy Carter's organisation which has monitored dozens of elections around the world.

He said an "unprofessional" assessment by the Carter Center of the DR Congo's 2011 elections "almost provoked a war."

The EU for its part fell out of favour with Kinshasa when it froze the assets of 15 Congolese officials after Kabila extended his mandate beyond its official December 2016 expiry date.

- African invites only -

The official said Ceni had invited observers from various African organisations including the African Union, asking rhetorically: "Are elections valid only if the EU and the Carter Center are on hand?"

Last month the Congolese authorities said the vote, for which campaigning ends on December 21, would go ahead without help from the international community.

Kinshasa has declined offers of advice, oversight and funding to organise polls in a country nearly five times the size of France.

Late last month the Congolese authorities said the vote would go ahead without help from the international community.

Kinshasa has declined offers of advice, oversight and funding to help organise the polls in a country nearly five times the size of France.

Mende serves as spokesman for Kabila's protege Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister running to succeed him.

A police statement meanwhile said all measures would be taken to ensure candidates' security, with a 25-strong special police detail already drawn up for opposition hopefuls Martin Fayulu, Gabriel Mokia, Jean-Philibert Mabaya, Yves Mpunga and Noel Tshany.

The statement added that arrangements for others would be made by Thursday, without mentioning by name Felix Tshisekedi, son of historical opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the late founder of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

DR Congo, an impoverished but mineral-rich country, has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

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