Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila appointed the head of his political party as interior minister to oversee security in the face of rising militia violence and unrest over delayed elections.
Henri Mova Sakanyi, secretary-general of Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy, replaces Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari, another senior PPRD official, who was in the post since December 2016.
The reason for the change, announced in a communique read on national television, was not immediately clear.
Ramazani is considered a staunch Kabila loyalist and has overseen the security force crackdowns on protesters demonstrating against repeated delays to a presidential election meant to choose Kabila’s successor.
Kabila’s second and final constitutional term expired in December 2016 but he refuses to step down or commit to not changing the constitution to allow himself to stand for a third term in an election currently scheduled for this December.
Security force killed dozens of anti-Kabila protesters over the past two years and uncertainty about Kabila’s future has fuelled militia violence, particularly near Congo’s eastern borders with Rwanda and Uganda.
Ramazani was sanctioned last May by the European Union over alleged human rights abuses committed by security forces under his authority. Congo’s government denies any systematic abuses.
Ramazani’s predecessor as interior minister, Evariste Boshab, was hit with both EU and US sanctions for alleged human rights abuses by Congolese forces.