Congo prepares for elections


Educating Electorate Before Election in DRC

Preparations are in full swing in the Democratic Republic of Congo for nationwide elections scheduled for November 27 this year.

It will be only the second democratic elections to be held in the central African country. The United Nations has offered to help with the logistics.

Meanwhile, the Congolese government has made an appeal to donors for over 200 million dollars.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

Duration: 2’42″

12 million voters are expected to register for DRC's upcoming elections in November. It will be only the second time Congo voters go to the polls.

The first elections, held in 2006, ended a period of transition from war to peace.

There is a general feeling that the country has to be more secure for elections to take place.

Raymond Tshibanda, the DRC Minister of International and Regional Cooperation, says there has been a successful dismantling of foreign armed forces in the East.

"Concerning military operations and the reduction of the threat posed by armed groups. Firstly, military operations as such have ended, and the ongoing efforts are aimed at neutralizing the last pockets of resistance of residual elements in order to eliminate all threats to peace. Secondly, operations led by armed forces of the DRC with MONUSCO have significantly reduced the operational capacity of armed groups. These latter now have taken the format of groups comprising 6-12 elements whose criminal activities nevertheless continue to pose a threat to the security of the population in a number of remote areas in the country."   

Important gains have been made in the last decade acknowledges UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but the situation, he says, remains fragile.

"We must do our utmost to ensure that violence does not break out before, during, or after the elections.  We have invested much – and there is much to lose."

The United Kingdom, a major donor for the DRC, has provided 35 million dollars so far for the elections.

For Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the UN's Permanent Representative, these elections mark a milestone and provide an opportunity to build on the progress made.

But he adds, the essential elements that make elections successful have to be there.

"It is important that these elections are based on the principle that every eligible adult has the right to vote. They include participation of civil society of human rights defenders and journalists. That they respect the freedom of expression and opinion and that they allow access to the media for the political parties."

Challenges loom large in one of Africa's largest and richest countries.

But many are hopeful that efforts made in the past decade, will help to make these elections a success.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Filed under Today's Features.
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