The United States said Friday it will refuse visas to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s election chief and top judge on charges that they undermined long-awaited presidential polls.

Washington said it wanted to send a clear signal of the need for accountability in the conflict-torn nation but stressed that it will still work with the controversially elected new president, Felix Tshisekedi.

The United States said it would refuse visas to five senior figures as well as their immediate family members over “involvement in significant corruption relating to the election process.”

They include Corneille Nangaa, president of the Independent National Election Commission, Benoit Lwamba Bindu, the president of the Constitutional Court and Aubin Minaku Ndjalandjoko, president of the National Assembly.

The State Department said it was also imposing visa restrictions on an unspecified number of other military and government officials over human rights abuses related to the election.

“These individuals enriched themselves through corruption, or directed or oversaw violence against people exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” the State Department said in a statement.

“They operated with impunity at the expense of the Congolese people and showed a blatant disregard for democratic principles and human rights,” it said.

The United States and other international players had been closely watching the December 30 election, which marked the first peaceful transfer of power in sub-Saharan Africa’s most vast country since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Despite recognizing concerns over the election, regional and world powers led by South Africa quickly coalesced behind Tshisekedi in hopes of preventing greater instability.

AFP

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