Wednesday, August 29, 2018

UN Envoy Calls for Dialogue Ahead of December Elections in DRC
2018/8/28 9:49:04

The special representative and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Leila Zerrougui, on Monday called for dialogue ahead of the December elections in the country.

Zerrougui told members of the Security Council that "tangible progress has been made" on the ongoing electoral process. However, she said that despite this progress, the coming period before the elections take place on Dec. 23 "will be marked by disputes and intense political consultations."

She encouraged all parties to continue to engage in dialogue.

Zerrougui also said that the perceived credibility of the electoral process "remains a key concern" and that this could heighten tensions in the country.

She added that "more meaningful inclusion of women" in the electoral process is a priority, as well as ensuring that there is "no intimidation of political activists and human rights defenders."

Zerrougui also called for the lifting of the general ban on public demonstrations and upholding the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which are crucial to making meaningful progress as the holding of elections draws nearer.

A number of Security Council members said that the UN is willing to offer logistical aid for the coming elections in the DRC, which has rejected all offers of help.

The DRC's ambassador to the UN, Ignace Gata Mavita, defended the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), his country's electoral committee.

"The results achieved so far by CENI should allow us to trust in the institution and allow it to carry out its mission without interference in its work based on considerations which owe more to speculation than reality," he said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that the humanitarian situation "remains worrying" in Uvira territory, South Kivu, one of the 26 provinces of the DRC, where more than 14,000 people have been displaced following an attack by a coalition of the Mai Mai militia on Aug. 18. Many people who were displaced were forced to flee again.

In addition, earlier this month, some 3,900 people were reportedly displaced in northern Shabunda and some 3,200 people in the southeast of the province of Maniema, due to clashes between armed groups and the armed forces.

Since June, the UN and its partners have been assisting more than 600,000 people in need, including internally displaced people and refugees.

According to an agreement reached between President Joseph Kabila and the opposition on Dec. 31, 2016, elections were to be held by the end of 2017, and Kabila was not to run for a third term or initiate amendments to the constitution.

Citing logistical difficulties that prevented the elections from being held on Nov. 5, 2017, CENI published a new electoral calendar for combined presidential, legislative and provincial elections to take place on Dec. 23, 2018.

Following the end of the voter registration period, between July 25 and Aug. 8, Kabila's party, the Peoples' Party for Reconciliation and Democracy, announced that its candidate for president will be former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, thus putting an end to speculation as to Kabila's intentions.

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