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US Imposes Sanctions on Kinshasa Police Chief in DRC

FILE - Policemen detain a protester during clashes in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 10, 2015.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Kinshasa's police chief in the Democratic Republic of Congo for violence and the murder of civilians.

All U.S. assets belonging to Celestin Kanyama are frozen and Americans are barred from doing any business with him.

The U.S. accuses Kanyama and his police force of creating a "climate of fear" in the DRC ahead of the December presidential election. President Joseph Kabila is believed to be planning to change election laws to allow himself to run for a third term, which would violate the constitution.

The Obama administration says the Kanyama-led police have used violence to put down anti-Kabila protests, including attacks on women and children, leaving at least 40 people dead.

Police raided a number of homes in Kinshasa, dragging out suspected opposition members at gunpoint and without a warrant. At least 50 men and boys were killed, and 30 others disappeared.

U.S. Treasury official John Smith says the sanctions decision "sends a clear message that the United States condemns the regime's violence and repressive actions, especially those of Celestin Kanyama, which threaten the future of democracy for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo."