Since 2015, Burundi has been subject to sanctions by the EU and the US following the outbreak of a violent crisis in the country. In May 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announced that he would seek a third term in office, which led to violent protests. Subsequently, a faction within the Burundian military attempted a coup d’état, which was unsuccessful – since then, Burundian security and intelligence forces have been accused of committing violent crimes against civilians, including torture and rape. In October and November 2015, the EU and US respectively imposed travel bans and asset freezes on individuals obstructing the peace and stability of Burundi. These sanctions targeted several high-ranking members of the Burundian military and intelligence services and will remain in place until October 2019.
Central African Republic
Since 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been subject to sanctions by the UN, EU and the US, introduced following the outbreak of a violent civil war in 2012. In 2013, the Seleka, a group of predominantly Muslim rebels from northern CAR, overthrew the country’s government. Since 2013, the UN has imposed an arms embargo, as well as targeted sanctions on individuals and entities accused of prolonging instability in the country. These sanctions were renewed in May 2018. In 2014, the US also imposed a travel ban and asset freezes, which will remain in effect until May 2019. Although the Seleka rebels no longer control the government, the group has dispersed into warring factions, complicating the security landscape in CAR. It is likely international sanctions will remain in place until these rebel groups are brought under control.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Following President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down from office at the end of his term in December 2016, the US and the EU imposed sanctions on senior officials in the DRC who have allegedly used violence and intimidation to halt the country’s elections. This included Evariste Boshab, the deputy prime minister, and Kalev Mutondo, the head of the DRC’s National Intelligence Agency, both of whom have reportedly taken measures to ensure Kabila stays in power. The EU also imposed travel bans and asset freezes on seven DRC officials in the police, the Republican Guard and the army, who it claimed were responsible for violent acts of repression during anti-Kabila protests. Both the US and the EU have since expanded these sanctions. Notably, in December 2017, the US imposed sanctions on 52 individuals and entities accused of contributing to human rights abuses and corruption in the DRC, including Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire who is alleged to have leveraged his ties to President Kabila to benefit his mining interests in the DRC.
In January 2019, Felix Tshisekedi, a prominent opposition figure, was sworn in as President of the DRC. His election was subject to allegations it had been rigged by Kabila in order to cast aside Martin Fayulu, another opposition figure who, according to credible independent observers, was the true winner of the election. After removing Fayulu, Kabila allegedly formed a secret power-sharing deal with Tshisekedi, which many believe will ensure Kabila’s continued influence over Congolese politics and business. It is unclear whether western powers will impose further sanctions on the DRC as a result of this alleged election fraud. Given that influential local actors such as South Africa and the African Union have failed to take any action, it is unlikely that the broader international community will intervene, especially given that existing sanctions have ostensibly failed to prevent vote rigging among the Congolese political class.
Republic of Guinea
Since violent crackdowns by Guinean security forces on political protestors in 2009, the Republic of Guinea has been subject to EU sanctions. On 27 October 2009, the EU imposed an arms embargo on Guinea, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban against members of the Guinean government who contributed to the violent repression. In December 2009, the EU then imposed additional sanctions, which prohibited the supply of equipment to Guinea that might be used for internal repression. These restrictions on the supply of equipment to Guinea were partially eased on April 2014, following positive developments in the country. However, the asset freezes and travel bans will remain in place until 26 October 2019.
In May 2012, the EU and UN imposed financial sanctions and asset freezes on individuals accused of contributing to instability in Guinea Bissau, following a mutiny in 2010 and an attempted coup in 2012 by the national security forces. Guinea Bissau has more recently been subject to sanctions by its West African neighbours. In February 2018, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional economic union of 15 West African countries, separately imposed sanctions on 19 Bissau-Guinean individuals reportedly close to José Mário Vaz, Guinea-Bissau’s president since 2014. The sanctions were a response to President Vaz’s violation of the 2016 Conakry Agreement, which required President Vaz to nominate a prime minister who had been agreed upon by himself and the ruling party in parliament.
On 5 September 2017, the UN unanimously adopted sanctions on Mali that target individuals threatening to derail the country’s political stability. The sanctions were introduced following various violations of a ceasefire between the Malian government and the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), a conglomeration of independent and nationalist groups. The sanctions were originally requested in August 2017 by the Malian government, who claimed the CMA had violated the peace agreement. On 30 August 2018, the UN extended sanctions on Mali for one year. The mandate of the UN expert panel to monitor the situation in Mali was also extended to 30 September 2019.
Between March and July in 2014, the UN, US and EU imposed restrictive measures on those threatening the peace and security of South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011. These sanctions have since been expanded and extended in view of the escalation of the conflict in the country. Since 2017, the US has imposed travel bans and asset freezes on several South Sudanese officials and businessmen, including the country’s former army chief, and three companies owned by the deputy defence chief. This was followed by more sweeping measures in February 2018, when the US imposed an arms embargo and terminated all financial assistance to South Sudan, and the EU added three individuals to its list of designated persons accused of prolonging the conflict in South Sudan. In July 2018, the UN imposed its own arms embargo on South Sudan.
Somalia has been under UN sanctions since 1992, when Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia’s former president, was overthrown in a military coup. The UN imposed an arms embargo on Somalia as well as travel restrictions and asset freezes on individuals deemed to be undermining the stability of Somalia. Most recently, in 2010 the US imposed a resolution providing for inspection of cargos to and from Somalia. These restrictive measures all remain in place to this day. Since 2010, the US has imposed various measures to tackle the deteriorating security situation in Somalia, including targeted asset freezes on individuals associated with the terrorist organisation Al-Shabaab. In January 2013, after Somalia completed its political transition though holding elections and drafting a provisional constitution, the US formally recognized the new government, and is committed to helping to improve Somalia’s stability and security. However, in April 2018 the US extended its sanctions on Somalia for a further year.
Sanctions were initially imposed on Zimbabwe by the EU and the US in the early 2000s following evidence of government repression in the country. EU sanctions were expanded in 2008 in response to violence committed by the Zimbabwean government during that year’s presidential campaign. Zimbabwe’s constitutional referendum in 2013 led the EU to suspend the travel ban and asset freeze for the majority of the designated persons. In response to this referendum, OFAC also lifted sanctions on the Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe and the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, allowing US companies to transact with these banks. However, OFAC enforcement measures against the country remain comprehensive, and in March 2019, the Trump administration announced it would be extending sanctions on Zimbabwe for one year. In February 2019, the EU announced it also would be extending sanctions on Zimbabwe.