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UN Envoy Warns Against Hate Messages In Media

As DR Congo Gears For Provincial Polls, UN Envoy Warns Against Hate Messages In Media

New York, Oct 6 2006 4:00PM

Warning of the damage that hate messages can wreak, the top United Nations envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today urged the country’s authorities to maintain their efforts to keep such messages out of the media during the campaign for provincial elections later this month.

William Lacy Swing, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the DRC, told the official launch in Kinshasa of the election campaign that the office of the High Authority of the Media (HAM) “is crucial to curb the hate messages that have been disseminated by certain media.”

He added that “with a professional media coverage, everybody can be focused and have a proper debate on socio-economic election issues that are important to the Congolese people.”

On 29 October millions of Congolese go to the polls to choose members of provincial assemblies, who will then have the task of appointing senators to the national legislature, as well as selecting all the regional governors.

On the same day the run-off round of the national presidential election will also be held between President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba who scored the highest number of votes in the first round of elections on 30 July.

Those polls were the first free and fair elections staged in the DRC in more than 40 years and represent the most complex electoral-assistance programme ever undertaken by the UN.

Mr. Swing praised what he called HAM’s “tenacious determination” to fulfil its work in recent months, despite the tensions that have prevailed during that period.

The envoy also appealed to all parties to respect the agreement they signed a month ago to resort from insults, hate messages and acts of violence during the election campaign.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, has already distributed more than 25 million ballot papers ahead of the elections, as well as some 1200 tons of electoral kits. An estimated 50,000 polling stations will be in operation on 29 October.

ends

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