Delays to Congo elections creating political tensions, UN says

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New York   –      Delays to elections in Congo are creating a tense and uncertain political climate, the UN’s top Official in the country said on Wednesday.

The Congolese government and opposition leaders agreed in December 2016 that elections would be held by the end of 2017.

This followed the postponing of a scheduled vote in November 2016 by President Joseph Kabila, which was seen by international observers as an attempt to extend his rule beyond the constitutional two-term limit.

As it has become clear that polls would be pushed back again, there has been a “re-emergence of a climate of political uncertainty and tensions,’’ Maman Sidikou, head of the UN’s MONUSCO mission, told the Security Council in New York.

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The CENI electoral commission has registered 41 million voters as of mid-September, but remains underfunded, and a support fund managed by the UN’s Development Programme has only received six per cent of the 123 million dollars required, Sidikou said.

Setting a date and a budget for the elections are “key milestones’’ and essential steps towards lowering political tensions, Sidikou said.

Officials said earlier this year that the security situation posed a challenge to getting voters registered.

Numerous rebel groups are active in eastern Congo, primarily fighting over the area’s rich mineral resources.

Two Tanzanian MONUSCO peacekeepers were killed in an attack by suspected members of the ADF terrorist militia.

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The country is also facing a humanitarian crisis, with at least seven million people in need of emergency assistance due to violence and armed clashes, according to the Red Cross.

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