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Rwanda seeks UN support for 2003 national election

Rwanda seeks UN support for 2003 national election

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has requested that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) help to ensure efficiency and transparency in the country's upcoming elections, the first national polling since the 1994 genocide.

The request came yesterday during a meeting between President Kagame and UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown in the capital, Kigali.

Mr. Malloch Brown said Rwanda's future depends its efforts to deepen democracy. "The challenge is to ensure that the government is the government of the people - of all the people," he said.

While the elections next July are expected to signal the successful end to a transition period, they also present a number of challenges, including a very tight schedule for meeting a number of electoral benchmarks, including the adoption of a new constitution, according to UNDP.

The agency had assisted Rwanda's Constitutional Commission in producing a draft constitution which will be submitted to a national referendum in March. Working in partnership with British, Swedish and other aid agencies, UNDP will help Rwanda's electoral commission to elaborate an action plan, train electoral monitors, provide voting machines and computerize voter rolls. The agency is also involved in building capacities in the judicial system and strengthening Rwanda's police force by training new recruits and providing equipment.

Before arriving in Rwanda, Mr. Malloch Brown toured Uganda, where he visited several development projects. He departed last night for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where he is scheduled to meet with President Joseph Kabila to discuss the consolidation of peace and security in the Great Lakes region.