Security Council urges DR Congo presidential candidates to use law for any challenges

Security Council urges DR Congo presidential candidates to use law for any challenges

Jorge Voto-Bernales, Security Council President
The Security Council today added its voice to the chorus of United Nations calls for the two candidates and their supporters in the run-off presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to avoid acts of violence after the release of provisional results and to use the law only to settle any challenges.

In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Jorge Voto-Bernales of Peru, which holds the rotating Council presidency, the 15-member body “appealed to the sense of civic responsibility of the Congolese people so that the electoral process could continue in a calm and peaceful climate.”

Provisional results released on Wednesday showed President Joseph Kabila leading Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba after the run-off round on 29 October, the last phase of the first free and fair elections in the DRC in 45 years. Final results are expected to be released on Sunday.

Council members “called on all political actors to refrain from any provocation, incitement to hatred or recourse to violence,” condemning the violent incidents in the capital, Kinshasa, last Saturday that led to the deaths of four people.

They urged Mr. Kabila and Mr. Bemba to comply with the commitments they made in an agreement in August, and reiterated earlier this month, to remain calm, avoid violence and pursue electoral disputes through legal procedures only.

The Council statement follows a similar call earlier this week from Secretary-General Kofi Annan and from a meeting in Brussels involving Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno and officials from the European Union and the World Bank.

Today’s statement also “commended the considerable efforts undertaken by the Congolese people and institutions, with the support of the international community, with a view to the holding of free, fair and transparent elections.”

The DRC elections, the largest and most complex polls which the UN has ever helped to organize, are aimed at cementing the vast and impoverished country’s transition to stability after a brutal six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives through fighting and attendant hunger and disease. Factional fighting remains a problem since the end of the war, especially in the east.