Dr Congo Election Body Rejects US Corruption Claims


The US is accusing DR Congo election chief Corneille Nangaa of corruption. By John WESSELS (AFP/File)

Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission on Saturday rejected accusations of corruption and human rights violations levelled by the US against three of its members.

On Friday, the United States said it will refuse visa requests from five senior Congolese figures as well as their immediate family members over “involvement in significant corruption relating to the election process” for the country’s December presidential ballot.

They include Corneille Nangaa, president of the Independent National Election Commission, his vice-president Norbert Basengezi and commission aide Marcellin Mukolo Basengezi who, the State Department said, “enriched themselves through corruption, or directed or oversaw violence against people exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression”.

Constitutional Court president Benoit Lwamba Bindu and Aubin Minaku Ndjalandjoko, president of the National Assembly, are also on the list.

On Saturday, the election commission said it “rejects the allegations of corruption and/or of human rights violations and of abuse or infringement of democracy in the exercise of its mission”.

In a statement, it said it reacted to the US visa decision “with stupefaction”, adding that the December 30 general election had resulted in a “peaceful and democratic” transition between presidents.

The commission declared Felix Tshisekedi the election winner with 38.5 percent of the vote, beating opposition figure Martin Fayulu who was credited with 34 percent. The vote result was later confirmed by the country’s constitutional court.

But Fayulu accused commission president Nangaa of “fabricating” the result and called the official count “a putsch” orchestrated by ex-president Joseph Kabila.

Fayulu said he won the election with 61 percent of the vote and should be president.

The US State Department, however, did not back that claim, saying its actions were “specific to certain individuals”.

It said the US was committed to working with the new government “to realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy and accountability, and respect for human rights”.

Tshisekedi’s victory appears to have been peacefully accepted by the Congolese population, and other African leaders gave him their support at an African Union summit earlier this month.

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