UN offers logistical support for DRC's December polls
Several members of the UN Security Council, including Britain, France and the Netherlands, said on Monday that the UN was ready to offer logistical aid for presidential elections this December in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has rejected all offers of support.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said many questions remained about the country's electronic voting infrastructure.
"Will there be enough voting machines, or will authorities extend voting by days or even weeks? Can the authorities recharge voting machines with only a 12-hour battery life? Have election organisers widely tested the machines?" Haley asked.
"Will voters, many of whom have never used a touchscreen, know how to use them? Are organisers preparing paper ballots as a back up if the electronic voting machines fail?" added Haley, who has previously voiced unease about the unprecedented use of electronic voting machines in the DRC.
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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.
"It does not insult the DRC's sovereignty for [the electoral committee] to accept logistical support from MONUSCO," the UN stabilising mission in the country, Haley said.
"Instead, the DRC is wasting precious resources to buy capabilities that are already available to them," she said.
"The Congolese authorities should permit MONUSCO to provide logistics and transportation support," she said.
The DRC's ambassador to the UN, Ignace Gata Mavita, came to the defence of his country's electoral committee, known as CENI.
"The results achieved so far by CENI should allow us to trust in the institution and allow it to carry out its mission without interference in its work based on considerations which owe more to speculation than reality," he said.
He said the DRC "remains open to contributions by other partners, provided that these are made without conditions and with respect to its sovereignty."
He said, however, the country rejected "the numerous external interventions and interferences" which he said continued to the present day.
"Respect for the electoral timetable is indispensable," said Anne Gueguen, the French deputy ambassador to the world body, who said that MONUSCO stood ready to "provide logistical support" to aid "free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections."
She called for a "climate of trust and peace" for the general elections, which are scheduled to take place on December 23.
"The credibility of the electoral process remains a key concern," Leila Zerrougui, the UN envoy to the DRC, told the meeting via video uplink.
The former Belgian colony has not seen a peaceful transition of power since 1960. The current president, Joseph Kabila, who has held office since 2001, has said he will not run again.