This month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control or OFAC, sanctioned a senior Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) official pursuant to an Executive Order 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 and the DRC Government to obstruct and delay preparations for a credible and inclusive presidential election that would lead to the DRC’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power in accordance with the December 31 agreement.
Specifically, OFAC designated François 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 actions taken on June 1st, 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.
Persons designated may be ineligible for U.S. visas under Presidential Proclamation 8693 or other authorities.
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 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.
“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.”