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Annan Calls For An End To Violence In Congo

Annan Calls For An End To Violence In Congo; Urges All Forces Off The Capital’s Streets

Repeating his earlier calls for an end to the fighting that erupted in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following Sunday’s provisional election results, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also called for all opposing forces to withdraw from the streets of Kinshasa.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan underlined the “responsibility of President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba to resolve the situation through dialogue and peaceful means, and urges them to meet as quickly as possible to ease tensions.”

He also called on all Congolese parties and candidates to “abide by the electoral law in the resolution of any disputes, and to respect the process and the timetable for holding the run-off presidential elections as announced by the Independent Electoral Commission.”

The UN said yesterday that a group of President Kabila’s Presidential Guards had opened fire on Vice-President Bemba’s compound in Kinshasa on Monday afternoon, while the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, William Lacy Swing, and a dozen members of the Committee in Support of the Transition were meeting inside.

Mr. Swing and Mr. Annan had then phoned the President calling on him to end the fighting, allow the safe evacuation of the diplomats and civilian personnel inside and meet immediately with the Vice-President to resolve any differences peacefully.

Some 150 UN peacekeepers in armoured personnel carriers then brought Mr. Swing and the other dignitaries to safety, while UN and European Union peacekeepers later deployed to Mr. Bemba’s residence and elsewhere in Kinshasa to ensure public order and safety, the UN said.
The Security Council also issued a statement yesterday backing Mr. Annan’s call for an end to the violence and for President Kabila and Vice-President Bemba, who are the two leading presidential candidates in the polls, to meet. The Council demanded that the Congolese political leadership “exercise restraint and immediately implement the ceasefire agreed between their forces.

According to Sunday’s provisional presidential results, Mr. Kabila won 45 per cent of last month’s historic vote, while Mr. Bemba received 20 per cent. The two candidates are scheduled to face off in a second round on 29 October.

Ends

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