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Congo Presidential Contenders To Use UN Helicopter

DR Congo Presidential Contenders To Receive Use Of UN Helicopters For Campaigning

New York, Oct 18 2006 4:00PM

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has made two helicopters available for the use of the two contenders as they campaign in the run-off round of the country’s historic presidential elections.

The Mission, known by its French acronym MONUC, has made the helicopters available to the DRC’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters today in New York.

Congolese voters go to the polls on 29 October after President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba obtained the two highest totals of votes during the first round of elections on 30 July. Provincial assembly elections will also be held on the same day.

Mr. Dujarric said MONUC decided to release the helicopters after the official campaign period for the run-off round was reduced from 30 days to 15, making it more difficult for the two candidates to traverse the vast African country that is comparable in size to Western Europe.

Some 50,000 polling stations will be operating across the DRC, one indication of the scale of the elections, which represent the most complex electoral-assistance ever undertaken by the UN.

The elections are the DRC’s first free polls in 45 years and are intended to cement its transition from a disastrous civil war. The six-year conflict, widely considered the most lethal fighting in the world since World War II, cost 4 million lives through combat and attendant disease and hunger.

ends

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