DR Congo

MONUC hails the progress achieved by the DRC electoral registration process

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MONUC notes "encouraging progress made by the DRC electoral registration process," Mr. Kemal Saiki, Director of Public Information told the weekly news conference.
" With the current pace of registrations, over one million voters will have been registered by the end of the week," he said, further noting, "large crowds are gathering before the registration offices to secure their voters' cards as time goes by."

"The train of the new era of the democratic transition in DRC got off to a good start and those who would attempt to derail the electoral process instead of helping accelerate it may remain at the station," Mr. Saiki said.

"Everybody must get registered to vote. Leaders of political parties must get registered as well for they will not vote or be elected without having their voters' card. Voters' cards are free of charge and should not be paid for," the Director of Public Information said.

MONUC deplores the loss of human lives, injuries, damage to property as well as the lootings that have occurred during last Sunday events in Mbandaka and is seriously concerned by the aftermaths of such acts of violence that killed civilians and targeted humanitarian organisations whose mission is to serve the population.

"MONUC, once again, calls on the transition government to consider the need for taking urgent steps to accelerate the ongoing reforms in the security sector, notably the merging of armed forces and integration within a unified national army," the Director of Public Information said.

"It is crucial for the Democratic Republic of Congo to have a well trained, equipped and paid army with regularly paid troops," Mr. Saiki said, recalling that "the International Community and MONUC have insisted oftentimes that the transition government should put in place reliable and lasting mechanisms for the effective and timely payment of troops' salaries an d food delivery" "It is quite unacceptable that huge sums of money be disbursed monthly from the coffers of State for fictitious troops instead of the real beneficiaries," the Director of Public Information declared.

"With respect to Ituri, MONUC condemns the support given from a bordering country to some militia members who have chosen to pursue their acts of violence, murders, massacres and lootings in Ituri for the benefit of criminal, mafia-like networks with international ramifications" concluded Mr. Kemal Saïki.

Concerning military activities, the military spokesman, Lieutenant-colonel Thierry Provendier reported, "on 4 July 2005, the South Brigade launched an operation called Falcon Sweep. The objectives of this operation aimed at deterrence and the broadening the of the South Kivu Brigade's zone of action are twofold: Firstly, to seek and drive the armed groups out of the region and, secondly, to secure the population." "The operation took place in the districts of Walungu and Kabare. It was a joint operation involving brigade units available in the South Kivu: a Guatemalan Special Forces company, and Pakistani Quick Reaction Forces supported by Indian contingent air assets. Congolese FARDC (Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo) units also participated in the operation. We had nearly 80 troops trying to identify combatants camps and make contact with them," Lieutenant-colonel Provendier said.

Regarding leadership conflicts within the FDLR, Mr Patrick Garba of the DDRRR Division stated that "MONUC is not concerned by these conflicts. We have no privileged interlocutors. We are only interested in persons who can help advance the disarmament and repatriation process."

On Ituri, the deputy spokesman, Mr. Mamadou Bah, noted, with regard to the disarmament and community reintegration programme, that "the transit centres are closed in the district except in Bunia. Now we expect CONADER to step their program of community reintegration of ex-militiamen in Ituri. Namely, CONADER is to verify its database, ensure that a coherent plan for safety-net payments is put in place, in collaboration with MONUC, which provides security in Ituri."

"Since 25 June, no single ex-combatant can have access to benefits of the National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme (NDDRP) if he/she has not disarmed before that date," Mr Bah added.

The deputy spokesman also said that "the advantages or benefits of the NDDRP include reintegration allowances (US$110) and safety-net payments (US$25 per month over a year). This is a significant amount compared with the local living standards. This is a considerable effort made by the international community, which finances this programme. So it is essential to put in place a system of management, planning and distribution that matches international standards."

Mr Mamadou Bah added that there was at the moment no CONADER office in Bunia or elsewhere in Ituri, a district with 6 million inhabitants and covering a land area of 65,000 square kilometres.

"MONUC recommends setting up a framework for dialogue with the ex-combatants, a dialogue that would allow them to know exactly what they want to do for a living and what they are entitled to get," he concluded.

Referring to the agenda of the head of MONUC, the deputy spokesman indicated that "the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the DRC, William Swing, travelled to Mbandaka this Wednesday, to follow-up the events that took place in this town last Sunday. Mr Swing is to hold talks with local authorities and meet with the personnel of MONUC's local office."

Mr Bah also announced that "this coming weekend Mr Swing will leave Kinshasa for Brussels where he will attend, next Monday, 11 July, a meeting of donors which aiming at mobilising financial resources for elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MONUC chief will deliver the opening address of this donors' conference. The day after, still in Brussels, Mr Swing will participate in a European Union-initiated session on good governance and corruption. On that occasion, Mr Swing will deliver a speech in the morning and make a presentation on the DRC in the course of the afternoon."

Joining in today's news conference were Mr Fernando Castanon, the Director of the Human Rights Division, and Mr Luc Henkinbrant, the head of the Justice Support Unit, made public a report on the demonstrations that took place on 30 June 2005 in the provinces of Eastern Kasaï and Western Kasaï, and in Kinshasa. In Kinshasa, MONUC's Human Rights Division conducted investigations on 1st July in nine hospitals and medical centres across the capital. "The investigation team was able to confirm one death case and nineteen wounds cases, seven of them from bullets," Mr. Henkinbrant indicated.

Noting that most of those with bullet wounds were injured by stray bullets while in their homes, due to the unnecessary use of firearms to disperse demonstrators, Mr Henkinbrant stated that "MONUC recommends that the necessary investigations should be conducted in order to clarify the exact circumstances of all the death and wounds cases, and possibly identify those responsible and bring them to justice."

Concerning the events in Mbuji-Mayi, MONUC's Human Rights Division is investigating allegations of excessive use of force by police. "According to information in our possession, violent clashes occurred in several parts of the town, between civilians and riot police forces (PIR), leaving at least four persons dead and nine wounded. We were able to see marks of bullet impacts on the victims' bodies," Mr Luc Henkinbrant said.