Treasury Sanctions Senior Congolese Official for Leading Republican Guard in Undermining Democratic Processes
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned a senior Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) official pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13413, as amended by E.O. 13671, which authorizes sanctions in light of activities that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the DRC. This action follows continued efforts by DRC President Joseph Kabila (Kabila) and the DRC Government to obstruct and delay preparations for a credible and inclusive presidential election and DRC’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power in accordance with the December 31 agreement.
Specifically, OFAC designated François Olenga (Olenga), the head of the “Maison Militaire,” or Military House of the President, which oversees the Republican Guard, an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the DRC. OFAC has also designated the Safari Beach, a resort located on the outskirts of Kinshasa, for being owned or controlled by Olenga. As a result of today’s actions, all of the designated persons’ assets within U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
“This action against Olenga sends a strong message that continued acts of violence, aggression, and suppression by the Congolese military against its own citizens are unacceptable,” said OFAC Director John E. Smith. “The United States is prepared to apply additional sanctions against those who undermine the DRC’s democratic or electoral processes.”
Persons designated under E.O. 13413, as amended by E.O. 13671 may be ineligible for U.S. visas under Presidential Proclamation 8693 or other authorities.
François Olenga, Chief of the Maison Militaire
Olenga was appointed in 2014 to serve as Kabila’s personal military Chief of Staff as head of the Maison Militaire. In this capacity, Olenga has operational control over the Republican Guard.
In his role as head of the Maison Militaire, Olenga has overseen security operations on behalf of President Kabila’s efforts to suppress political opposition in the DRC. In addition, the Maison Militaire has supported the reassignment of senior military officers believed to have pro-opposition tendencies.
The DRC Republican Guard has actively disrupted the political process in the DRC, including harassing political rivals, targeting opposing political parties, and arbitrarily arresting and executing Congolese citizens. As of 2016, Olenga had taken a more active role in the leadership of the Republican Guard. Additionally, Olenga developed a plan to use the Republican Guard to disrupt opposition activities and financial support.
Since early 2016, Republican Guard members have monitored and threatened opposition members and critics of President Kabila. In April 2016, Republican Guard soldiers blocked a team of human rights observers and United Nations security officers from observing an opposition political meeting. Security forces fired tear gas at opposition members and supporters, preventing the meeting from taking place. In the wake of protests across the DRC capital city, Kinshasa, in September 2016, heavily armed Republican Guard members allegedly attacked and set fire to the headquarters of several political parties with cans of gasoline, hand grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades. Reports suggest at least seven people died and several others were severely burned.
For identifying information on the individual and entity designated today, click here.