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Africa Union Proving Support For DRC Elections

In the final week before Congo's elections, campaign trucks - like this one for the ruling party that at one time enjoyed immense popularity in the east - drive down the dirt roads of the North Kivu regional capital, Goma, November 2011.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the African Union is working closely with all stakeholders to ensure Monday’s presidential and parliamentary elections are transparent, free and fair.

AU spokesman el-Ghassim Wane says the continental body is providing financial and logistical support for the vote.

“We are planning to send an observer mission to the election. We have also made financial contributions to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). And we are confident that the stakeholders will be able to work together to ensure a successful electoral process,” said Wane.

The chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping recently met with government officials as well as stakeholders in the capital, Kinshasa. Ping assessed the security situation there and reportedly encouraged them to work together towards ensuring a peaceful vote.

“Congo has made tremendous progress for the last few years towards stabilization and post-conflict reconstruction,” said Wane. “Our objective as the AU is to continue supporting the efforts by the Congolese authorities and stakeholders to consolidate [that] progress.”

Wane also said the AU’s Peace and Security Commission encouraged participating political parties to “strictly abide by the constitutional framework and to respect the role of the constitutional institutions” ahead of the vote.

“We are confident that the stakeholders in Congo will be able to work together to ensure a successful electoral process,” said Wane. “It is important for us that the elections proceed well in Congo for the long term stability of Congo, which of course is important for the security of the continent as a whole.”

The November 28 general election is the second since the collapse of the government of long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and the adoption of multi-party democracy in DRC about 10 years ago. Some observers say the elections are critical to the long term stability of the country.

Wane said the AU is also working with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to bolster security ahead of the poll.

“We have an office on the ground that works closely with MONUSCO as well as other international stakeholders,” said Wane. “Importantly, all of the [parties] should abide by existing rules, should they challenge the results of the election to challenge them with existing processes and institutions.”

Ten candidates including veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi are challenging incumbent Joseph Kabila in Monday's presidential election. CENI officials say more than 18,000 people are running for 500 seats in the national assembly.