Brussels (AFP) - The United States and the EU on Monday imposed sanctions on top DR Congo officials after clashes with protesters against President Joseph Kabila in September left more than 50 people dead.
DR Congo -- once ruled from Brussels as a Belgian colony -- immediately slammed the EU move as an "illegal" throw-back to imperial days, warning it would take unspecified action against them.
Washington had previously targeted several senior figures close to the president and on Monday added Deputy Prime Minister Evariste Boshab and Kalev Mutondo, head of the national intelligence agency, for rights abuses.
"The Congolese government continues to undermine democratic processes in the DRC and to repress the political rights and freedoms of the Congolese people, putting the long-term stability and prosperity of the country at risk," the US Treasury said in a statement.
European Union foreign ministers had made clear in October they would go ahead with sanctions if Kabila showed no sign of leaving office when his term ends on December 19.
The 28-nation bloc accordingly hit seven officials with travel bans and asset freezes for their role in the September deaths when the security apparatus "exercised a disproportionate use of force," a statement said.
The seven included army commander Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, former inspector of police General John Numbi, and Celestin Kayama, chief of police, who were previously sanctioned by the United States.
- 'Imperial law' -
The bloc also listed Ilunga Kampete, head of the president's Republican Guard; Ferdinand Ilunga Luyoyo, commander of the anti-riot squad; Roger Kibelisa, in charge of internal security and Delphin Kaimbi, alias Kahimbi, who ran military intelligence.
The EU said it would follow developments in DR Congo very closely and further sanctions "may be considered in the event of further violence or the political process being impeded".
It also called on the government to cooperate with a "transparent and independent investigation" to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.
Last week, the Catholic Church launched "reconciliation talks" in an effort to broker a deal between the opposition and Kabila on holding new elections.
The EU wants polls and a new government to ensure stability in DR Congo, a mineral-rich and strife-torn former Belgian colony which sits astride Africa's strategic crossroads.
Kabila first took office in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent-Desire Kabila and a 2006 constitutional provision limited the presidency to two terms.
Kinshasa immediately condemned the move.
"(These sanctions) are illegal because they are a sort of imperial law that is at odds with international law. The DRC, a non-European country, condemns them and intends to take action against them," said government spokesman Lambert Mende.