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Voter Registration Increases in DRC’s North Kivu Province, Says UN Official

  • Peter Clottey

DRC President Joseph Kabila (file photo)

DRC President Joseph Kabila (file photo)

A U.N. official in the DRC says there’s been a sharp increase in voter registration over the past 10 days in North Kivu province as the country prepares for general elections on November 28.

Alexander Essome, the regional spokesman for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), attributes the improvement to better security.

“It’s somewhere around 80 percent right now,” he said. “This is a really good number…[and] it is something that we need to salute and we need to encourage.”

MONUSCO recently ended an operation called Operation Restore Hope, a 10-day military offensive against armed groups in the province’s Rutshuru district.

Essome also cited other factors, including efforts to get out the vote by the provincial government and by Radio Okapi, which has voter education programming.

“It’s something noticeable…and we do encourage the local population to continue to enroll so that all can go to the November elections,” said Essome.

He also said politicians from the capital, Kinshasa, are campaigning in the province.

MONUSCO strengthened security in Rutshuru district with Operation Restore Hope after residents complained about continuing rebel attacks, which they said were undermining voter registration and business activity.

The armed groups are accused of a number of crimes, including ambushing civilians, looting, kidnapping and rape.

Both the government and MONUSCO blame rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for the attacks in North Kivu.

Kinshasa recently signed a memorandum of understanding with MONUSCO for the UN body to provide support to the electoral commission.