As Congolese Prepare to Vote, Ban Calls for Peaceful and Secure Elections

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–27 November 2011.  

Electoral campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged politicians and voters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to ensure that tomorrow’s presidential and parliamentary elections take place as peacefully and smoothly as possible.

In a statement Mr. Ban described the elections as “crucial for the country’s progress towards stabilization and development” and stressed the support of the United Nations for the electoral process.

He called on “all political leaders and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to exercise restraint throughout the process to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful and secure environment.

“I appeal to them to conform to the relevant provisions of the constitution and the electoral law to promote democratic debate to respect the results of the ballots and to address any disputes that may arise, through the established mediation and legal channels.”

Mr. Ban commended the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its “notable work to organize the elections in a timely manner,” and also the UN peacekeeping mission to the DRC (MONUSCO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for their support during the process.

He also voiced hope that many national and international observers, along with political party witnesses, will be present at polling stations tomorrow and throughout the electoral process.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General”s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallstrom said it was “completely unacceptable” that the militia commander Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, who was indicted over the notorious mass rapes in the eastern DRC town of Walikale last year and yet remains at large, has been campaigning for a parliamentary seat.

Mr. Sheka was indicted in January for sexual violence crimes after being apprehended following the July-August 2010 attacks in Walikale, in which at least 387 civilians were raped over four days by members of two armed groups — the Mai Mai Sheka and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (known by their French acronym, FDLR).

“Militia commander Sheka is already indicted for crimes of sexual violence perpetrated against citizens of Walikale,” she said. “Now asking for their votes in Monday”s elections is nothing but a grave insult.

“I call upon Congolese law enforcement agencies to enforce the arrest warrant for militia commander Sheka and bring him to justice immediately. The terrible events that took place in Walikale last summer created a global outcry. Impunity is not an option.”