UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil team in DRC

Viet Nam News - - WORLD -

KIN­SHASA — A del­e­ga­tion from the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was awaited yesterday in Kin­shasa ahead of a long-post­poned pres­i­den­tial poll and amid ten­sions be­tween au­thor­i­ties in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo and the United Na­tions’ largest peace­keep­ing mis­sion.

Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila’s gov­ern­ment in the strife-prone coun­try has long been de­mand­ing the with­drawal of UN mis­sion MONUSCO, whose ini­tial mil­i­tary ob­servers were de­ployed in 2000 dur­ing the Se­cond Congo War.

The force cur­rently counts more than 15,000 troops, 1,000 po­lice and 2,500 civil­ians in its ranks.

Speak­ing at the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly last week, Ka­bila vowed to “op­pose any in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­toral process un­der way” and said that his coun­try would cover the full cost of the votes on De­cem­ber 23.

The coun­cil team, led by French am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Fran­cois De­lat­tre, will re­strict its visit to the cap­i­tal Kin­shasa and plans to meet Ka­bila, his prime min­is­ter and for­eign min­is­ter, as well as the elec­toral com­mis­sion re­spon­si­ble for or­gan­is­ing the vote across the vast equa­to­rial African na­tion, a MONUSCO source said.

Stay­ing in the coun­try un­til to­mor­row, the 15-mem­ber team should also have talks with civil so­ci­ety lead­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of women’s or­gan­i­sa­tions and re­li­gious bodies.

The Ro­man Catholic church is in­flu­en­tial in the DRC.

Ka­bila, 47, has been in power since 2001. His se­cond and fi­nal elected term in of­fice ended nearly two years ago, but he stayed in of­fice thanks to a care­taker clause in the con­sti­tu­tion.

Months of fever­ish speculation about Ka­bila’s plans, marked by protests that were blood­ily re­pressed at a cost of dozens of lives, ended in Au­gust when he threw his weight be­hind Em­manuel Ra­mazani Shadary, a hard­line for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter, as his favoured can­di­date.

The meet­ing be­tween UN del­e­gates and Ka­bila has not been for­mally con­firmed, UN sources said.

MONUSCO head Leila Zer­rougui this year an­nounced that UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res would travel to the DRC in July, but the visit was called off, of­fi­cially be­cause Ka­bila would be un­avail­able at the time.

The UN team has three co­pres­i­dents — France, which drews up UN res­o­lu­tions on the DRC, Equa­to­rial Guinea, cho­sen by African na­tions, and Bo­livia, act­ing pres­i­dent of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in Oc­to­ber.

The elec­toral com­mis­sion has so far re­spected the lat­est timetable for the vote al­most to the day, while op­po­si­tion par­ties are look­ing for a sin­gle can­di­date to rally round rather than boy­cotting the poll.

There is op­po­si­tion to vot­ing ma­chines im­ported from South Korea, re­garded as po­ten­tial for chaos.

The elec­tion com­mis­sion says the ma­chines will cut both costs and fraud, but crit­ics point out that they de­pend on a re­li­able power sup­ply, which is far from guar­an­teed.

Con­flict per­sists no­tably in the North Kivu prov­ince on the coun­try’s eastern bor­der, which has been sub­ject to con­sec­u­tive waves of blood­shed and bru­tal­ity in­volv­ing mili­tias, rebel groups and gov­ern­ment forces for more than 20 years. — AFP

MONUSCO’s mil­i­tary com­man­der, Brazil­ian Gen­eral Elias Ro­drigues Filho, re­views troops at Goma, cap­i­tal of North Kivu prov­ince, in May 2018. — AFP/VNA Photo

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