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Media Restraint Called For In DR Congo

DR Congo: Un Mission Calls On Media To Exercise Restraint During Presidential Runoff

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today renewed its call for calm during the upcoming presidential runoff elections, appealing to the local media to refrain from publishing hate messages and propaganda.

The mission, known by its French acronym MONUC, lamented the clashes that erupted between the security forces of President Joseph Kabila and Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, the two front runners in last month’s historic polls, after the release of preliminary results last week.

“The media were certainly not responsible for these, but they have an important role to play in informing the public on all election-related events,” said Deputy Spokesman Jean-Tobie Okala at a weekly press briefing in Kinshasa.

Mr. Kabila and Mr. Bemba are scheduled to face each other in a second round of voting on 29 October.

MONUC reports that all media stations in the capital Kinshasa have now reached an agreement with the High Authority of the Media to respect a code of good conduct during the campaign and throughout the post-electoral period.

“MONUC appeals to the media to respect the code of conduct,” said Mr. Okala. “We also ask of them to separate information from propaganda, and to refrain from publishing hate messages that would incite the population to violence.” He also urged the Congolese people to remain calm.

“We appeal to the population to disregard rumours which might be used to lure them into acts of violence, insults or tribalism. We remind everyone again that the time of gaining power through the use of arms is a thing of the past in the DRC,” Mr. Okala said.

In related news, MONUC reports that some 5,000 Congolese militiamen have been disarmed and demobilized since the beginning of June as part of a UN-sponsored national disarmament initiative.


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