SA says hopeful of peaceful DRC vote

Continental powerhouse South Africa on Monday expressed confidence that upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would be peaceful after assurances from the authorities in the troubled country.

Foreign Affair Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that DRC President Joseph Kabila and the electoral commission had given guarantees to the regional SADC bloc that the country was ready to hold the delayed vote.

"We called the president of the DRC. We called in the electoral commission... by the time they left, we felt very comfortable that they had the situation under control," Sisulu told AFP in an interview in Pretoria.

"From the assurances that we got... we have no reason to doubt that they are not telling us the truth," she said.

The delayed elections are now due on December 23 and Kabila is not standing for re-election.

Kabila took over from his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, after he was assassinated by a bodyguard.

His tenure over the vast mineral-rich country has been marked by corruption, inequality and unrest.

Out of 25 applications, the electoral commission has rejected six presidential aspirants, including ex-warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The DRC has declined offers of advice, oversight and funding to help organise the election in the impoverished country nearly five times the size of France.

Sisulu dismissed reports that South Africa had tried to appoint former president Thabo Mbeki as a "special envoy" to DRC ahead of the elections.

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