DR of Congo: UN peacekeeping chief stresses importance of credible elections

13 March 2006

Continuing an official visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the top United Nations peacekeeping official today stressed the need for credible national elections as the world body works to help the war-ravaged country prepare for the June polls.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno made his comments in the town of Kalemie, on the western shores of Lake Tanganyika, where he met with the local offices of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Speaking to reporters, the peacekeeping chief reiterated the UN’s firm resolve to see free, fair and credible elections in the country.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) is the largest peacekeeping operation ever fielded by the world body, and preparations for the 18 June vote for a president and parliament constitute the biggest and most complex electoral-assistance mission the UN has ever undertaken.

The upcoming vote will mark the first election in the DRC’s 46-year history as an independent nation. To help foster stability in the country, MONUC has an authorized strength of some 17,000 uniformed personnel, as well as civilian specialists in such areas as human rights, humanitarian affairs, public information, child protection, political affairs and medical as well as administrative support. Since it was set up in November of 1999, the mission has suffered 83 fatalities among its staff.

 

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