President of DRC Must Stop Unconstitutional Power Grab or Face Sanctions
The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation (H. Res. 780), authored by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, which urges Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila to respect the people’s constitution and allow a peaceful, democratic transition of power—or face targeted sanctions.
“The constitution, which prevents Kabila from running for a third term, will be completely discredited if he manages to extend his rule,” said Smith, who chaired his first of four hearings on DRC in 2005. “Even in his gross misinterpretation of the constitution, which in his mind allows him to stay in office, there is no provision for Parliament to continue to operate. When the current term expires on December 19th, President Kabila will rule his country with no oversight from a legislative body.”
The election for President and Parliament in DRC was originally intended for November 19th; however the Kabila government canceled the election, exploiting an apparent constitutional loophole that allows a president to stay in power for another term if elections are not completed by the end of the calendar year.
H. Res. 780 catalogs the various efforts by Kabila and his administration to frustrate DRC’s constitution and democratic process and calls for the Obama Administration to levy targeted sanctions on government officials who have acted to prevent free and fair elections from taking place.
Led by Smith, the chairs of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Africa Subcommittee also sent a letter to President Obama two weeks ago urging him to widen the targets of what were recommended as broader, more effective sanctions.