The European Union is ready to step up pressure on the Democratic Republic of Congo, including imposing sanctions, to end the unrest in the east of the vast nation and to push for elections next year.

The 28 EU foreign ministers said in a statement Monday the bloc "will use all the means at its disposal, including individual restrictive measures" against those that commit violence and human rights abuses.

Dozens died in Kinshasa in September after security forces clashed with anti-government demonstrators opposed to delaying long-anticipated elections. Fighting in the east is also worry.

Congo's electoral commission says a national election, originally scheduled for next month, will likely take place at the end of 2018 but the EU ministers said the polls must happen "as soon as possible in 2017."