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W. Swing: The freedom of the press is one of the pillars of any democratic country

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Monuc - July 15, 2006

William Swing

William Swing, the United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General in the DRC, inaugurated, on Thursday July 13 2006, a seminar entitled ?MONUC, the media and the elections?.

I invite you to understand how the electoral mechanism functions so that you explain it to the population and avoid the spreading of rumours.

At the seminar, which is intended for Congolese media professionals, he reiterated the strong support of the United Nations and MONUC to the freedom of the press.

?The freedom of the press is one of the pillars of any democratic country, and the assassinations of journalists, the attempts at press intimidation, are the worst things which can happen in a country.?

The two day seminar attempts to explain the action, the approach and the principles which have always guided the actions of MONUC, while also giving Congolese journalists a progress report on the contribution of the latter in the electoral process.

In his address to the journalists, Mr. Swing initially shared his ?sincere condolences following the assassination of a fellow journalist killed last weekend in Kinshasa.?

The Special Representative insisted that the DRC is truly at a crossroads, with the holding of its first free and democratic elections in its history since 1965. Furthermore he stressed that the work of the press is crucial at this important time.

?I would like to ask you to continue to inform the population on the importance of the upcoming elections. I thus invite you to understand how the electoral mechanism functions so that you explain it, in your turn, to the population and to thus avoid the spreading of rumours.?

The end of the transition is only one stage. It will not mean the end of the UN presence in the DRC, but a departure towards new challenges

Recognizing that the prospect for these elections raises many questions, Mr. Swing added that it demands of all of us to find the answers, each one in his own field.

?The skepticism of certain Congolese can be understood: in more than 40 years, there had never been free and democratic elections, and thus, not even an election campaign; in short, the population has still to believe that the next elections will be indeed free and transparent. One can understand it. Too beautiful to be true; however, it is true!?

For the Special Representative, ?the end of the transition is only one stage. It will not mean the end of the United Nations presence in the DRC, but a departure towards new challenges?.

The task is not small, he said, because ?all is to be remade in this country: to promote the respect of human rights, to repatriate all the foreign armed groups, and to treat more effectively the social and human consequences of the war?.

The seminar will continue tomorrow Friday July 14, and will end with a joint press conference including MONUC, CEI, UNDP and UNOPS.


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