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Annan Requests More Troops For DR Of Congo

Annan Requests More Troops, One-Year Extension For UN Mission In Dr Of Congo

New York, Sep 28 2005

As the electoral process proceeds in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for more troops for the peacekeeping mission there and a one-year extension of its mandate until October 2006, after the installation of a newly elected Government.

A referendum on the constitution is scheduled to be held before the first extension of the transitional political process expires at the end of December, he says in his 19th report to the Security Council on the United Nations Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC). Parliament is likely to have voted by then for the second and final six-month extension of the transition, so as to give the Independent Electoral Commission enough time to organize the elections.

"In this context, I would recommend that the mandate of MONUC be extended for one year, until 1 October 2006, which would include the period up until the elections and the immediate post-transitional period following the installation of the new Government," Mr. Annan's report says.

MONUC's military capacity will have to be enhanced to address the threats posed by armed groups in the volatile Katanga province and help establish the necessary security conditions for the elections. "In this regard, I hope that the Council will give due consideration to my recommendation for an increase of 2,580 in the force strength of MONUC," he says.

By 17 September, more than 11 million voters had registered, including 2.9 million in Kinshasa, out of an estimated electorate of 20 to 25 million, the report says. Voter registration was scheduled to end nationwide on 25 September; but has been extended in several areas, such as Katanga and the Kasais, mainly due to logistical difficulties and the slow rate of voter registration.

In Katanga and the Kasais, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), claiming that the Ministry of the Interior has not properly registered it as a political party, has called for a boycott of the electoral process, the report says. "Efforts to persuade UDPS leaders to join the electoral process have thus far been unsuccessful," it adds.

In the troubled eastern region of DRC, the Kivus and Ituri, MONUC has sought for three years to disarm and demobilize "foreign armed groups" and help them to return voluntarily to their countries of origin, it says, and almost 12,000 combatants and their dependents have gone home.

The national Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), however, still needs to be strengthened against the rebel Hutu-dominated Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and both forces must stop their gross human rights violations against civilians in Ituri, Kivus, and central and northern Katanga, the report says.

"Meanwhile, clear public commitments from the Governments of Rwanda and Uganda on security guarantees and incentives for returnees who have not been responsible for gross human rights violations will be vital in encouraging progress in the disarmament and repatriation process," it says.

On the humanitarian front, a special action plan for the DRC is being developed, with a preliminary budget of $800 million, the report says.

In this connection, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström and an inter-agency mission examined the challenges involved in disarming and reintegrating militias in Ituri before visiting Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

Tomorrow the mission will go to Bukavu, South Kivu, before returning to the DRC capital of Kinshasa, he said.


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