The United Nations Security Council today congratulated the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for successfully carrying out a referendum on its draft Constitution last weekend that paves the way for the country’s first democratic elections next year.
In a presidential statement read out by Adam Thomson, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council presidency this month, the Council said the large voter turnout demonstrated the country’s genuine aspiration for peace and national reconciliation. The Council also paid tribute to the Independent Electoral Commission, which met the challenge of the referendum with unprecedented logistical support from the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the help of the international community.
The vote was the first democratic ballot held in the DRC since 1965 and one of the biggest polls - with 36,000 vote offices, nearly 200,000 electoral agents and 25 million voters - in which the UN has participated.
The Council also recalled its support for the upcoming elections, which should take place before the end of the transitional period on 30 June 2006. The body urged the Government of National Unity and Transition to meet the expectations of the Congolese people and ensure that the next polls meet the electoral commission’s timetable.
In separate resolution approved by unanimous vote today, the Council deplored the fact that foreign armed groups in the eastern part of the DRC have not yet laid down their arms and demanded that these groups engage voluntarily and without delay or preconditions in their disarmament and their repatriation and resettlement.
The Council urged the transitional Government to do its utmost to ensure the security of civilians, including humanitarian personnel, by effectively extending State authority throughout the territory of the DRC, particularly the troubled provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu as well as the Ituri district.
The Council requested the Secretary-General, in close coordination with all relevant stakeholders and particularly the transitional Government, to submit a comprehensive and integrated strategy for the disarmament, repatriation and resettlement of foreign combatants to the Council by 15 March 2006.
The Council also reiterated its call on the donor community, as a matter of urgency, to continue to engage firmly in the provision of assistance needed for the integration, training and equipping of the Armed Forces and of the National Police of the DRC.
In addition, the Council reiterated its call upon Congolese authorities to immediately bring to justice the perpetrators of grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in cooperation with MONUC.