United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on Congo's politicians to ensure that their post-war election is inclusive and the results are respected by all parties. The U.N. head is visiting the vast African country just months ahead of planned elections. But attacks on aid workers in the lawless east highlight the ongoing violence.
Congo is home to the United Nations' largest peacekeeping mission. There are nearly 17,000 soldiers and policemen there and the operation has a budget of about $1 billion a year.
The mission is vast but so is the job it is trying to do, consolidate peace deals that ended a devastating five-year war and ensure elections are held, giving Congolese the chance to elect their leaders for the first time in over 40 years.
Visiting the enormous African country, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called on Congo's political players Wednesday to ensure the elections, which are due in June, are inclusive and the results respected.
His comments come as speculation continues in Congo over the participation of two main players from the political scene.
A former Rwandan-backed rebel group has threatened to pull out of the process leading to elections over a disagreement about seats in the future parliament.
Another party, a popular veteran opposition group, has boycotted the government so far and is still not ready to commit itself to taking part in the polls.
Fears are that an election without several main players will undermine the credibility of a future government and, as a result, breed further conflict in a country where the last war has killed some four million people.
As Mr. Annan discussed elections in the capital, British aid agency OXFAM announced Tuesday that attacks by militia fighters on a town in the lawless east had forced three staff members to hide with villagers in the bush for two days.
The aid workers were later found safe and sound. But the incident highlights the ongoing instability in Congo, three years after the official end to the war.