Former DR Congo Government spokesman Lambert Mende will a free man to travel to EU from today as the Europeans lifts sanctions on him imposed back in 2016.
Mende, who was former President Joseph Kabila’s information minister for several years, was among 12 ministers and top security officials sanctioned. The same sanctions were renewed in October 2018 ahead of presidential elections.
Also on the list was Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who was Kabila’s hand-picked successor to be on the December elections. The 12 were accused of leading a crackdown on protestors and impeding Congo’s democratic process.
The sanctions included travel bans and asset freezes.
Current President Felix Tshisekedi has repeatedly called for the sanctions to be lifted as they are undermining the country’s recovery. Critics however contend that President Tshisekedi has been under pressure to clear Kabila’s men, which may have been part of the secret deal they signed for their current coalition.
Apart from Lambert Mende, the other official whose sanctions will be lifted is Roger Kibelisa, who was chief of internal security at the dreaded DRC intelligence agency ANR.
As for the others, the remaining 10, the sanctions will stay. Among them is former ANR top chief Kalev Mutombo, another ex-minister Evariste Boshab, the former governor of Central Kasai province Alex Kande Mupompa and the former governor of Haut-Katanga Jean-Claude Kazembe as well as senior officers and a militia leader.
French broadcaster RFI reports that France and Belgium are the ones that have convince other EU members to lift some of the sanctions to boost Tshisekedi’s government. He was last month in Paris and Brussels.
Meanwhile, Mende, who lost a Gubernatorial election for the Sankuru Province and has recently been facing possible prosecution, told RFI that he will keep denouncing the sanctions because they were interference in Congolese affairs.
Mende is known for his then-regular outbursts against Rwanda, during the years when Kigali stood accused of backing rebels on DRC soil.
Despite removal of EU sanctions, the U.S. also has its own separate sanctions on Mende and several other former officials.