US Sanctions 3 Top DRC Election Officials, Charging Fraud

Corneille Nangaa, the president of the independent electoral commission (CENI), leaves a meeting with opposition candidates and African Union observers in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 2, 2019.
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The U.S. has sanctioned three top election officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo for alleged corruption tied to the long-delayed presidential election.

Thursday’s sanctions target CENI President Corneille Yobeluo Nangaa, Vice President Norbert Basengezi Katintima, and adviser Marcellin Mukolo Basengezi — Katintima’s son.

FILE – Vice President of the Commission Electorale Nationale Independante (CENI), Norbert Basengezi reacts during the announcement of the new electoral calendar for December 2018 presidential elections, Nov. 5, 2017 in Kinshasa.

All three are accused of stealing funds that were supposed to be used for holding a presidential election in December 2016, but forced the vote to be postponed until December 2018.

They also allegedly inflated the cost of the contract to supply voting machines by as much as $100 million and used the excess for personal gain, pay bribes, and find the campaign for outgoing President Joseph Kabila’s favored candidate.

None of the three men have commented on the charges.

Under the constitution, Kabila was supposed to have stepped down in 2016, but the long postponement, allegedly orchestrated in part by the CENI officials, kept him in office for another two years.

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi won the December election in what was the DRC’s first peaceful transition of power in nearly 60 years.

But runner-up Martin Fayulu, who was also an opposition candidate, says he believes the election was rigged in Tshisekedi’s favor because he was seen to be less hostile to Kabila’s policies.


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