News / Africa

UN Agency Trains Electoral Officials in DRC Ahead of Poll

Spokesman for program says it’s also designed to encourage women’s participation

Peter Clottey

Electoral commission officials in the DRC are getting training from a UN agency -- the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). The officials will administer the scheduled November 28 presidential and legislative elections.

“We have been training people all over the country. We have done so in Lubumbashi, Kananga, Bujimai and other areas,” said MONUSCO spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai.

“In Bukavu, that’s in the South Kivu Province, we trained 12 trainers, three supervisors and 189 workers. Out of the 189 workers, 172 are actually trainers so they will continue to go and do other training.”

MONUSCO is also working closely with women’s groups to increase the participation of Congolese women.

Analysts say their participation in previous elections has been  low, despite the fact that they make up 52 percent of the population. They say women’s representation as candidates is also low. Out of more than 18,000 candidates for the legislative election, only 2,000 are women.

“We’ve been engaging with different women’s organizations, training  them to sensitize and inform women to be involved in that process, not only as voters, but also as candidates,” said Mounoubai.

Under a memorandum of understanding between the government and MONUSCO, U.N. forces will help the Independent National Electoral Commission organize the vote.

Some citizens have expressed concern about attacks from rebel groups during the campaign, and observers also warn of the increasing potential for violence between supporters of political rivals. But Mounoubai said the U.N. stabilization force has stepped up efforts to bolster security for the vote and has trained about 6,000 policemen.

“We want the police to be trained in human rights so that they know that people that they arrest rights are respected,” said Mounoubai. “We also trained them in crowd control using non-lethal weapons because traditionally, whenever there is a demonstration, they use lethal weapons. So we have dead bodies. We don’t want this to happen,” he said.

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