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Political progress is made in the DR of Congo

Political progress is made in the DR of Congo, but human rights respect lags, UN says

Political and peace-building progress has been made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but "establishing respect for human rights remains a major challenge," as massacres and rapes continue, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report released today.

The UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) has created an Electoral Assistance Unit to coordinate international support for elections to be held within the mandated two years after the transitional government was formed earlier this year, Mr. Annan's 14th report on MONUC says.

The unit has helped the DRC's Independent Electoral Commission develop an electoral road map, but the absence of infrastructure in some places and the lack of definition of such electoral processes as establishing nationality and registering voters raise challenges to organizing the elections, it says.

Two major political parties, the Union pour la démocratie et le progress social and the Parti Lumumbiste unifie, disagreed with other parties on how representatives should be named to the Transitional Government and declined to join the government, the report notes.

Massive violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, meanwhile, "including massacres, summary executions, forced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests, rape and other forms of sexual violence and torture, have continued unabated despite political progress at the national level," the report says.

As a result, MONUC's human rights section, through its Kinshasa office and its 12 field offices, has been changing its emphasis from general fact-finding to systematized data gathering and analysis, it says.

Despite the international arms embargo against the Kivu and Ituri provinces in the eastern region, rounds of mortar have recently been seized, one lot from an airplane and another in a mountain village, it says.

Because of years of fierce fighting, the DRC has the second largest internally displaced population in the world at 3.4 million people, an increase of 22 per cent over last December, the report says. Sudan's internally displaced population is estimated at 4 million.

The DRC government has no national programme for integrating fighters from rebel militias, including child soldiers, into civilian life, the report says.

MONUC has made ad hoc responses, therefore, to requests from increasing numbers of fighters from the eastern region's Mayi-Mayi militias to be disarmed and integrated into the peace process. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is also helping MONUC to finalize an interim plan for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of children, it says.


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