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DR of Congo: Envoy to Assess Election Readiness

DR of Congo: UN Envoy Heads to Ituri to Assess Election Readiness on Eve of Poll

New York, Jul 24 2006 7:00PM

With less than a week to go before the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) holds its first free elections in 45 years, the senior United Nations envoy to the country is travelling to its troubled north-eastern province of Ituri to gauge the state of readiness there.

William Lacy Swing, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the DRC, told the press today in the capital, Kinshasa, that the UN remains vigilant but not overly anxious about the security situation ahead of Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary polls.

Mr. Swing has observed repeatedly in the past that Ituri, the scene of deadly conflict for several years, serves as both a barometer of the DRC’s stability and of its readiness to hold elections.

The envoy told reporters that he welcomed the fact that militias in the east of the vast African country have not disrupted the preparations so far.

Approximately 25.5 million voters are expected to cast ballots on Sunday at 50,000 polling stations in an election involving some 33 presidential, over 9,000 national legislative and more than 10,000 provincial assembly candidates. It is considered to be the most complex electoral-assistance mission ever undertaken by the UN.

ENDS

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