Thursday, November 10, 2011

UN Statement on the National Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo-Kinshasa: UN Deplores Poll-Related Violence Ahead of General Elections

8 November 2011
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today voiced deep concern over increasing incidents of election-related violence and the use of inflammatory language by political leaders that has marred campaigns for presidential and legislative polls later this month.

The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) said in a press release that some leaders have been using inflammatory language to incite people to violence. It stressed that such conduct is a violation of the country's electoral law and international electoral standards.

"MONUSCO wishes to stress that it is only through a free, fair and democratically held election that Congolese can choose their political leaders," said the mission.

In New York, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRC and head of MONUSCO, Roger Meece, told the Security Council that the mission and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are providing a wide range of assistance to the country's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it prepares for the 28 November elections.

"We have added 30 civilian aircraft, for example, to the MONUSCO air fleet to help distribute election materials throughout the country in accordance with the INEC logistics plan," said Mr. Meece.

He added that security remains an ongoing concern ahead of the elections and stressed the importance of candidates, political leaders and their followers acting responsibly. MONUSCO, he said, had been training thousands of police in crowd control and public order tactics.

"I underscore once again, however, the pressing need for additional non-lethal equipment for trained police units, which we are unable to provide under MONUSCO financing."

The activities of illegal armed groups in eastern DRC also remain a major concern, Mr. Meece said, noting that while none of those groups have until now shown evidence of seeking to disrupt the elections, their actions continue to pose a major threat to civilians.

He voiced disappointment that only 12 per cent of candidates for seats in the National Assembly are women, despite the fact that women represent just under half of the registered voters.

There are an estimated 32 million registered voters in DRC. Eleven candidates are vying for the presidency and 18,864 candidates are competing for seats in the National Assembly, double the number that ran in 2006, according to Mr. Meece. A list 63,865 polling stations was published recently.

Mr. Meece also emphasized the ongoing concern over sexual and gender-based violence, saying that armed groups were responsible for most of the crimes in the east. "Clearly, the elimination of the threat posed by these groups therefore remains central to improving security and reducing sexual-based violence."

He, however, noted that significant progress has been made in fighting impunity for sexual violence, saying that the number of soldiers and members of militias prosecuted for sex crimes is on the rise.

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