The United Nations secretary-general is urging authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo not to further delay general elections but to hold them, as promised, at the end of this year.
“In the current politically polarized climate, there is a real risk that plans for the holding of the long-awaited polls could be derailed once again,” Antonio Guterres wrote in his quarterly report to the Security Council on the work of the U.N. stabilization mission in DRC, known as MONUSCO.
The government and opposition signed an agreement December 31, 2016, calling for President Joseph Kabila to step down after elections were held in 2017. Further delays in the electoral process not only risk fuelling political tensions, but also compounding an already fragile security situation.
But the promised polls have been repeatedly delayed, inciting civil unrest and prompting fears that the 46-year-old Kabila may seek to further extend his 17-year-long rule.
“Further delays in the electoral process not only risk fuelling political tensions, but also compounding an already fragile security situation, ‘’ U.N. Peacekeeping Chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix told a meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday.
Lacroix’s office oversees the MONUSCO mission which, with more than 21,000 personnel and an annual budget of over a billion dollars, is the U.N.‘s biggest peacekeeping operation.
DRC U.N. Ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita wa Lufuta however dismissed the allegations, saying the five deaths had nothing to do with the protests and were of separate incidents involving mainly criminal elements. He reiterated the Kabila government’s willingness to hold elections.
Several Security Council members expressed concern about the security situation, the violation of human rights, and the need for the elections to go ahead as scheduled.
As part of its mandate, the U.N. mission in DRC is supporting the electoral process, and providing logistical and technical support to the Electoral Commission for voter registration and other electoral activities.
Author: Staff Writer