The United Nations Security Council today voted to expand the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) temporarily to cover the preparations and holding of nationwide elections next year, the largest and most expensive ever assisted by the world body.
Calling on all Congolese parties to ensure free and fair elections, the Security Council said, responding to recommendations from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that it was authorizing an increase in the strength of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) of 841 personnel, including up to five formed police units of 125 officers in each and additional police personnel.
In a special report in May, Mr. Annan recommended “the phased deployment of an additional 2,590 military contingent personnel, 216 civilian police personnel and five formed police units (625 formed police personnel), bringing the Mission’s military, civilian police and formed police strength to 19,290 military personnel, 391 civilian police officers and 750 formed police personnel,” costing some $188.8 million over a12-month period.
The Council stressed “the temporary character of the deployments” and requested Mr. Annan “to take the necessary steps with a view to downsizing or repatriating these additional personnel from 1 July 2006 at the latest, and to report to the Council before 1 June 2006 on the assessment mentioned.”
It authorized MONUC, acting in close coordination with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to help the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) with transporting electoral materials.
MONUC has been making its vehicles, airplanes and helicopters available to the IEC as it distributes materials to some 9,000 voter registration centres in the vast country.
In its resolution, the Council encouraged MONUC, within its capacity and in accordance with its mandate, to provide advice and the necessary assistance to DRC’s Transitional Government, the international financial institutions (IFIs) and donors in order to strengthen support for good governance and transparent economic management.
Plans call for voter registration to be completed by the end of this month, Margaret Carey of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ (DPKO) African Division, told journalists last month. A referendum on the new constitution is scheduled for 27 November, followed by parliament’s adoption of the electoral law. The elections are scheduled for March and April, with the inauguration planned for May, but the exact dates will depend on the electoral law, she said.