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Concern At Violence Ahead Of Elections

DR Congo: UN-Backed Support Group Concerned At Violence Ahead Of Elections

New York, Oct 20 2006 3:00PM

A United Nations-backed group supporting the political transition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has voiced its “deep concern” over violent incidents that marred the first week of campaigning in the second round of presidential elections set for 29 October.

The International Committee for Support to the Transition, known by its French acronym CIAT, noted that on Tuesday representatives of the two candidates, President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, signed their third agreement on the conduct of the campaign since violence in Kinshasa, the capital, in August.

“CIAT expresses its hope, that before the elections, both sides reach a formal agreement on measures of confidence-building measures for the post-electoral period,” the Committee said in a communiqué issued yesterday, citing Tuesday’s agreement to renounce all forms of violence and intimidation.

“However, CIAT must express its deep concern over a series of violent incidents in DRC which have marred the first week of the electoral campaign, notably at Lubumbashi, Basankusu, Lodja and Mbandaka, which are in flagrant violation of the accord the parties have just signed,” it added.

The CIAT is composed of the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, USA, France, Great Britain and Russia), Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Angola, Gabon, Zambia, the European Union (Commission and Presidency), the African Union (Commission and Presidency) and the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC).

The 29 October run-off is the final stage of the largest and most complex elections the UN has ever helped organize and is aimed at cementing the vast country’s transition from a six-year civil war, which officially ended in 1999 and cost 4 million lives through fighting and attendant hunger and disease, widely considered the most lethal fighting in the world since World War II.

Since then factional fighting has continued in the country’s east, killing and displacing tens of thousands more.

The vote is the culmination of a process that began at the end of July with the first round of presidential and legislative elections, the first free polls in 45 years in the DRC.


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