UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil team vis­its DRC at tense time

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

A DEL­E­GA­TION from the United Na­tions 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 DRC 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 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 co-pres­i­dents — 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.

Mean­while, The United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil called on Wednesday for an im­me­di­ate end to hos­til­i­ties by all armed groups in north­east­ern Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo to com­bat a deadly Ebola out­break.

Coun­cil mem­bers stressed the ur­gency of get­ting med­i­cal teams to the af­fected ar­eas quickly “be­cause the dis­ease can spread rapidly, in­clud­ing to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, pos­si­bly im­pact­ing re­gional sta­bil­ity”.

The coun­cil is­sued the state­ment after a closed­door video brief­ing by World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus and ahead of a trip to DRC start­ing on Thurs­day evening.

WHO said on Saturday that the risk of the Ebola virus spread­ing from north­east­ern DRC, where the lat­est out­break be­gan, is now “very high” after two con­firmed cases were dis­cov­ered near the Uganda bor­der.

The out­break of the hem­or­rhagic fever in north­east­ern DRC is now larger than the one in the north­west that was de­clared over last month. And it is more com­pli­cated to con­tain be­cause of a dense, highly mo­bile pop­u­la­tion and a rebel threat so se­ri­ous that some health work­ers say they’re op­er­at­ing in a war zone.

A deadly at­tack in Beni, the heart of Ebola con­tain­ment ef­forts, forced a sus­pen­sion of work to con­tain the virus for two days last week. That led the WHO’s emer­gen­cies chief, Peter Salama, to warn that in­se­cu­rity, pub­lic de­fi­ance about vac­ci­na­tions, and politi­cians fan­ning fears ahead of elec­tions in De­cem­ber could cre­ate a “per­fect storm” lead­ing the out­break to spread.

As of last Fri­day there were 124 con­firmed Ebola cases, in­clud­ing 71 deaths. The pre­vi­ous out­break in DRC’s Equa­teur prov­ince had 54 con­firmed cases, in­clud­ing 33 deaths. — Al Jazeera.

US first lady Me­la­nia Trump is es­corted by head teacher Mau­reen Masi as she ar­rives for a visit at Chipala Pri­mary School, in Li­longwe, Malawi, Thurs­day

Ni­codeme Ayao Habia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.