DR Congo UN humanitarian affairs chief calls for an end to culture

The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today called for end to the “culture of impunity” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he just arrived on the first stop of an eight-day trip to three central African nations.Violence poses an ongoing threat to untold numbers of Congolese, particularly in the strife-torn eastern provinces. The country is also still recovering from clashes two weeks ago between the security forces of President Joseph Kabila and Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, the two leading candidates after July’s historic presidential elections.Meeting with representatives of UN agencies working in the DRC, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told them that the humanitarian community is making progress there, saving more lives per dollar spent than anywhere else. As a positive sign, he cited the large number of displaced persons who have returned to their homes since the beginning of the year.“We must stay the course. We are engaged in a humanitarian marathon here,” said Mr. Egeland, noting that the DRC represents a unique challenge for the aid community, given its huge size – roughly equivalent to all of Western Europe – and enormous unmet humanitarian need.Tomorrow Mr. Egeland, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, will travel to the southern province of Katanga. There he will visit camps for internally displaced persons and towns that have been seriously affected during the past decade of fighting.After the DRC, Mr. Egeland will also travel to Uganda and Juba, Sudan.In other news, the publication of results from the DRC’s July elections has again been delayed. The Supreme Court was originally scheduled to announce official first-round results of the presidential election today, but those will not be available before Saturday.The delay stems from a constitutional requirement that the second round of the presidential election must take place 15 days after the publication of official results from the first round, according to the UN mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym MONUC.The Supreme Court met today with the president of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to ask for a dispensation allowing both the presidential second round and provincial elections to take place on 29 October, as envisioned in the electoral calendar. In the meantime, MONUC reports that the IEC has also postponed the release of provisional results from the legislative elections, pending a fraud investigation.Yesterday 10 IEC workers were arrested on suspicion of falsifying documents in favour of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) legislative candidate in some Kinshasa districts. The IEC is now re-verifying election tallies in 25 other districts nationally. As a result, provisional legislative results, originally slated for release yesterday, are now expected on Thursday.

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