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UN warns Congo rivals over vote unrest

09 November 2011, 11:10

New York -The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday warned political rivals in Congo against stirring up unrest ahead of the African nation's presidential election this month.

The 15 member council and the UN special envoy to the Congo rang alarm bells over mounting violence leading into the November 28 vote.

The UN envoy Roger Meece said incitement by political leaders and the renewed strength of armed groups in the east of the troubled nation were a threat to the election.

After a meeting on Congo, the Security Council expressed "strong concern over reports of election related violence". A council statement warned the country's political leaders that they are "responsible for ensuring a peaceful process".

"In recent days however there have been worrisome actions and statements that contribute to, or worse incite, increased violence or other unacceptable behaviour," UN envoy Meece told the council.

Incumbent leader Joseph Kabila, who has ruled Congo since the assassination of his father in 2001, is standing against 10 rivals for the presidency.

One leading opposition figure, Etienne Tshisekedi, has called on supporters to break members of the opposition party out of prison. There have been a number of campaign-linked clashes in recent days.

"Any incitement to violence by Tshisekedi or indeed any other individual is clearly a violation of basic democratic principles," Meece told reporters after the hearing.

Armed groups

The envoy said armed groups were becoming stronger and "threaten state functions, including the conduct of the polls" in the east of the country

The Congo army and the UN peacekeeping force "have lost momentum in dealing with armed groups" in north and south Kivu provinces.

A reorganisation of the army has left "significant gaps that have been exploited by various groups" and the UN force was short of military helicopters, he said.

The UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallstrom, raised her own concerns about the number of rapes being committed in the political campaign.

The United Nations is putting on a huge operation for the election, adding 30 extra civilian aircraft to its fleet to carry voting materials around the sprawling country, Meece said.

South Africa is providing 3 000 tons of ballot papers while 58 000 national observers were being trained and 600 international observers were expected for the election.


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