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UN gives big financial support to DRCongo election

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Xiuan - June 29, 2006

KINSHASA, Jun 29, 2006 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The United Nations has made the largest investment of this type in its history, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the central African nation's first election in 45 years, the UN special representative to the DRC said on Thursday.

On the day the election campaign kicked off, a month before the July 30 vote, William Lacy Swing, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, said the international community has contributed 458 million U.S. dollars in aid to the DRC for the long-awaited poll.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has spent 5 billion dollars since 1998, with an annual average expenditure of 1 billion dollars, making MONUC the most expensive mission in UN history, said Swing.

Under the auspices of the international community, five peace agreements have been signed, and the UN Security Council have adopted a total of 33 resolutions on the DRC, he said.

The materials for the ballots to be used for the July 30 election weigh 1,810 tons in total and needed to be transported by jumbo planes to 50,000 polling stations across the country, according to the envoy.

In addition, the international community has organized personnel training for 300,000 workers and 50,000 police officers to ensure the smooth going of the ballot.

The 17,000-strong MONUC have deployed 13 out of its 15 battalions in the volatile eastern part of the DRC, Swing said.

He termed the upcoming election as a huge challenge to the international community, saying the country has not held a democratic ballot for the past four decades and that it has conducted no census since 1984.

He also deplored the ruin of the nations' infrastructure during the country's 1998-2003 civil war and insurgency in its eastern region, where more than 10,000 militiamen were holed up, many from foreign countries.

Swing stressed that the United Nations was looking forward to a new phase in the DRC after the July 30 election, urging continued support for the country after the voting. The world body also hoped for an elected government which was clean, tolerant and capable of managing state affairs, he added.


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