The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has welcomed the announcement by the Independent Electoral Commission of a timetable for the electoral review process for local polls.
The operation will kick off in the Kinshasa and Bas-Congo provinces in June and will expand in August to the rest of the vast African nation.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for DRC, Alan Doss, welcomed the move and assured the Electoral Commission of UN support in line with the mandate of the mission, known as MONUC.
He said the review process for local elections will complete a national endeavour that began in 2005 with the identification and enrolment of all eligible voters.
Meanwhile, MONUC reports that more combatants are continuing to leave the ranks of the ethnic Hutu militia known as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), which has been the target of a joint military operation conducted by Rwanda and the DRC.
From 1 January to 24 March this year, the mission has helped repatriate 640 fighters and 914 of their dependents. Just last weekend a senior member of the FDLR leadership as well as three other officers, 15 soldiers and their dependents decided to enter the process of voluntary repatriation.
“This is a very good decision,” noted Mr. Doss. “By choosing to drop their weapons, they have chosen a better future.”
The voluntary disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation (DDRRR) programme for the ex-militia is managed by MONUC. The ex-combatants surrender to joint patrols of the mission and the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC), while civilians are repatriated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The FDLR and other Rwandan militias have been a key factor in the resurgence of violence last August in North Kivu province, where some 250,000 civilians have been uprooted by fighting.