Congo’s decision to expel the European Union’s Amb. Bart Ouvry ahead of contentious elections was not only “completely unjustified’’ but also “counterproductive,’’ a spokesperson for the bloc said on Friday.
Congo’s government gave Ouvry 48 hours to leave on Thursday a tit-for-tat measure after the EU renewed sanctions against government officials, including the ruling party’s presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.
There is growing unrest in the Central African country ahead of Dec. 23, long-delayed elections, with protests breaking out over an announcement that voting would be delayed in several opposition strongholds until March.
“The EU regrets this decision and considers it as completely unjustified,’’ an EU spokesperson told dpa regarding the ambassador’s expulsion.
“The EU has always been a constructive and reliable partner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its people.
“On the eve of very challenging elections in DRC, such a decision can only be considered counterproductive,’’ she added.
Shadary was “involved in planning, directing, or committing acts that constitute serious human rights violations,’’ the EU said earlier this month when extending the sanctions.
He is competing against a divided opposition which is fielding two main candidates, Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu.
The elections had already been delayed for two years by President Joseph Kabila, and were further delayed this month.
On Wednesday, the electoral commission announced that several areas in East and West Congo would see more of delay notwithstanding the fact that the president is due to be sworn in January.
This is effectively disenfranchising more than a million voters.