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EU threatens Democratic Republic of Congo sanctions, urges early elections

A�The EU on Monday warned the Democratic Republic of Congo it faced sanctions if it does not hold early elections and condemned recent deadly violence between opponents and supporters of President Joseph Kabila.

More than 50 people died in clashes in the capital Kinshasa in September as the opposition called on Kabila, in power since 2001, to step down amid fears he wanted to stay in office after his term ends in December.

European Union foreign ministers said the bloc was a�?deeply concerned by the political situation (and)a�� strongly condemns the acts of extreme violence.a�?

a�?The EU will use all the means at its disposal, including individual restrictive measures against those responsible for serious human rights violations, those who promote violence and those who would try to obstruct a consensual and peaceful solution to the crisis,a�? a statement said as the ministers met in Luxembourg.

EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini will now study the issue, it added.

Diplomatic sources told AFP last week the bloc was looking at people close to Kabila as possible sanctions targets.

Shortly after the September killings, Washington put two Kabila allies a�� army commander Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba and former inspector of police General John Numbi a�� on its sanctions blacklist for undermining democracy.

Kabila first took office in 2001, and in 2006 a new constitutional provision limited the presidency to a two-term limit which expires in December.

At the beginning of this month, the DRCa��s electoral commission said it would seek to delay a vote until November 2017.

The foreign ministers said Monday that a political a�?dialogue must lead to the holding of presidential and legislative elections as soon as possible in 2017.a�?

Their statement did not mention a specific date but said the issue must be resolved by December 19 when Kabilaa��s term official ends.

The EU has previously imposed a series of sanctions a�� trade restrictions, asset freezes and travel bans a�� on the DRC over rights abuses.

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