Africa’s Great Lakes region needs further outside support to succeed, leaders tell UN

20 September 2006
Joseph Kabila, President DR of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will require continued assistance from the international community in tackling problems ranging from insecurity to poverty and disease as it emerges from years of war and misrule, the country’s leader told the United Nations today.

In his address to the annual debate of the General Assembly, Joseph Kabila Kabange hailed the parliamentary and presidential elections on 30 July – the first free and fair polls in the vast African country in more than 40 years – as an example of what the Congolese people can achieve with the help of international partners.

But he warned that the challenges facing the DRC remain so complex that its institutions, many of them fledgling, will struggle to succeed without outside support.

“The realization of this vision is not possible without the mobilization of everyone’s energies,” he said, listing health, education, food, infrastructure and basic utilities as some of the priorities of the incoming government.

Mr. Kabila also stressed the importance of good governance and fighting corruption, as well as the need to combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The incoming DRC government will follow the final results of the presidential election, which has moved into a run-off between Mr. Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba on 29 October, when provincial assembly elections will also be staged.

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania, told the Assembly that his country has suffered for too long from conflict and instability across the Great Lakes region.

He noted that Tanzania has had to host hundreds of thousands of refugees, endure the destruction of some of its infrastructure and environment, and invest enormous amounts of time and resources deployed in facilitating conflict resolution.

But he said that “significant progress has been achieved in the political and security situation,” thanking the UN for its help, and citing the DRC elections and the ceasefire agreement between the Government and rebel groups in neighbouring Burundi as two positive examples.


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