The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo says the United States is creating “needless fear” after the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa said it had knowledge of a credible threat to its security before an election to replace the country’s long-serving leader.
The embassy closed its doors on Monday after reporting over the weekend it was “monitoring threats against U.S. government facilities in Kinshasa.”
The Congolese government responded sharply, accusing the United States of trying to meddle in the upcoming December elections. “You have to distrust information coming from people who want to spread needless fear and uncertainty among the Congolese a few days before elections,” government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP.
Relations between the war-plagued country and the United States have been increasingly fraught since President Joseph Kabila took power in 2001. Kabila has cracked down on protests and censored the Congo’s internet, leading critics to accuse him of clinging to power. Analysts have said Kabila only declined to run for a third term because of immense pressure from domestic and international sources.
International skepticism about the Congo’s ability to hold fair and free elections has grown as December draws near. The country has not seen a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. Its government has turned repeated offers of oversight and funding from international bodies like the European Union and the Carter Center, an election-monitoring organization founded by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.