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Donors agree to provide €85 million more for polls

NAIROBI, 12 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - European donors and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo committed themselves on Tuesday to provide an additional €85 million ($100 million) for democratic elections in the central African country, but officials say more money is still needed.

"The money for the actual elections is now there," Domenico Rosa, the European Commission's desk officer for the DRC, told IRIN on Tuesday from Brussels. "But there is still a problem to find the money needed for the logistical support to hold the elections."

The commitments were made during a two-day meeting at the European Union in Brussels, co-chaired by European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel, and the UN Special Representative to the Secretary-General in the DRC, William Swing.

Rosa said although MONUC had the aircraft and technical capacity to put the electoral workers and material in place, and could do so "cheaply and efficiently", it was already overstretched. He said according to MONUC's calculations it needed an additional €85.8 million ($103 million) to do the job.

"The [UN] Security Council should now consider increasing MONUC's budget," he said.

The donors who committed funds on Tuesday were Belgium, German, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The DRC government pledged 16.6 million (about $20 million). Others that also expressed their intentions to provide more money are Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and the United States.

The polls would usher in the first democratic government in 40 years. It would replace the current transitional power-sharing administration agreed to by the armed groups in the country's civil war. The elections were initially planned for June 2005 but the national assembly has postponed them for at least six months.

The Independent Electoral Commission began registering the first voters in Kinshasa on 20 June and 1.5 million voters have already been registered in the city. The voter cards issued will also serve as temporary identity papers.

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