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Security Council urges DR of Congo to meet next June's election deadline

Security Council urges DR of Congo to meet next June's election deadline

A Security Council delegation visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to review preparations for the biggest and most expensive elections the United Nations has ever helped to organize has called on the country's authorities to speed up the political transition to meet the planned timetable.

"Lots has been done but there is still a lot to do for elections to take place by June 30th next year," the delegation leader, Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France, said on arrival in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, at the start of the visit on Saturday. "The Security Council puts a lot of effort into the process so we will be very vigilant for any obstacles that might block it," he added.

The Council has said electoral laws must be adopted right away, a constitutional referendum must be held in December and the demobilization and community reintegration of ex-combatants must be accelerated. Some 20 million Congolese have registered to vote in the elections, which will be the first national polls to be held in the former Belgian colony for more than 40 years.

The delegation met with President Joseph Kabila, who "stressed the irreversible nature of this process," Mr. Sablière said. "We also elaborated the reform of the security services and the President underlined his determination to ensure that this is about to happen."

The delegation also met with other senior officials, leaders of the ruling parties and members of civil society, as well as with leaders of opposition parties, including Etienne Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS).

Despite being among the signatories to the transition agreement on transition, the UDPS has not yet decided to take part in the electoral process. It gave the Security Council delegation a memo addressed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling for a dialogue and "political readjustment" to give "the necessary credibility and legitimacy to the results coming from the ballot boxes."

The Security Council delegation then left for Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of DRC's south-central Kasai-Oriental, and Kamina, in south-eastern Katanga province.

During the 10-day visit, the delegation will also visit Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, which have had conflicts, and Tanzania, which has both acted as mediator and hosted many refugees.