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UN Chief in Democratic Republic of Congo to Support Democracy, Peacekeepers


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is starting his first Africa tour since assuming his post, visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the U.N. has one of its largest peacekeeping missions. Mr. Ban urged lawmakers in the country's first democratically elected government in decades to re-establish authority. Kari Barber has this report from our West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.

In an address to the Congolese National Assembly on Saturday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the country's transition to democratic rule after a five-year civil war that ended in 2002.

Mr. Ban recognized the efforts of the Congolese people, international bodies and other African nations in steering the country toward democracy.

Mr. Ban cited the U.N.-supervised presidential and National Assembly elections last year, the first in more than four decades, as signs of the country's progress.

However, Mr. Ban said much more needs to be done to restore authority and security in a country where rebel groups still operate in the east.

The secretary general urged the Assembly to commit to "a good governance pact with the Congolese people and international bodies."

Mr. Ban ruled out, at this time, downsizing the nearly 20,000 U.N. peacekeeping force stationed in the country.

The meeting in Kinshasa marks the start of a five-day African tour for Mr. Ban. The secretary-general is expected to visit Kenya and attend the African Union summit in Ethiopia.

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