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DR Congo: Call for Rivals to Avoid Provocation

DR Congo: UN And European Partners Call on Presidential Rivals to Avoid Provocation

New York, Nov 15 2006 4:00PM

The top United Nations peacekeeping official and senior European officials today issued a new call to both presidential candidates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to avoid any provocative acts over the yet-to-be announced results of last month’s elections.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno attended a working lunch in Brussels with European Union (EU) High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz to discuss support for the DRC’s newly-elected democratic institutions.

The discussions focused on ways in which the international community can best support the Government in meeting key challenges such as ensuring good governance and effective security sector reform.

In a statement issued afterwards, the participants reiterated that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is the only body authorized to release the results of the contest between President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, expected on 19 November. They called on both candidates and their supporters to avoid provocation which might cast doubt on the results.

Yesterday representatives of the two agreed to respect strictly the chain of command of the armed forces and police, to encourage their supporters to cooperate with them, and to abstain from influencing them for political reasons, the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said.

This followed a commitment by the two last week to support the IEC, which was tallying the votes, and to refrain from speculating on the outcome of the election, the largest and most complex elections the UN has ever helped organize.

The three-month-long electoral process, the first democratic poll in the DRC in 45 years in which a 500-seat National Assembly and provincial assemblies were also elected, is aimed at cementing the vast country’s transition from a six-year civil war, widely considered the most lethal fighting in the world since World War II, costing 4 million lives through fighting and attendant hunger and disease.

Factional fighting has continued since then, particularly in the east.

UN agencies helped to deliver tens of millions of ballots and other supplies to 50,000 polling stations, train 12,000 polling supervisors and plan for the safety of the 25.7 million Congolese registered to vote.


ENDS

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