DAKAR Oct 13 The United Kingdom said on
Thursday it backs targeted European Union sanctions against
officials in Democratic Republic of Congo to end government
repression and encourage a peaceful transition of power.
Dozens of people have died in clashes between security
forces and protesters angered by what opposition groups say is
President Joseph Kabila's plan to postpone a November vote and
stay in office beyond his two-term limit.
Kabila's government has said the election must be postponed
because of logistical problems.
The United States has already imposed sanctions on a general
as well as former and current senior police officials, but
Europe has been divided. France has said it is time to consider
imposing EU sanctions.
"The UK believes sanctions would play a useful role in
influencing the DRC Government and security forces to desist
from human rights abuses and suppression of fundamental
freedoms," a spokesperson for the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth
Office said in an email.
"We cannot stand by and watch violence, such as that on 19
September, continue and not take action."
Officials in Congo, a former Belgian colony, are thought to
hold most of their assets in Europe. Human Rights Watch on
Thursday urged the EU to impose sanctions, saying that it could
help prevent a broader crisis.
The vast, mineral-rich central African state has never
experienced a peaceful transition of power. The United Nations
said this week that the current crisis poses a great risk to the
country's stability and is likely to spark large-scale violence.
(Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Hugh Lawson)