Congo Rules Out Any External Help for Presidential Elections

(Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government said it won’t accept logistical support from the United Nations for this year’s elections, having already ruled out external financial assistance for the vote.

The central African nation, which hasn’t had a peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence almost six decades ago, is preparing to hold presidential and other polls in December, after a two-year delay. The electoral commission said in November the presidential and parliamentary polls are expected to cost about $420 million and U.S. officials have expressed doubt the body can organize the polls without UN-supplied hardware.

The UN Mission in Congo, known as Monusco, said this week it’s set aside more than $80 million to deploy aircraft to distribute electoral materials around the vast country. That type of assistance was used by the electoral commission in previous votes in 2006 and 2011.

“We don’t need anything” and the government is “not making a request” for logistical support, President Joseph Kabila’s deputy chief of staff, Jean-Pierre Kambila, said by phone Tuesday from Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. “The president has said that we don’t want financial help from anyone whoever they are.”

Election Materials

Monusco is continuing to plan to contribute to logistics for the elections, according to Florence Marchal, the mission’s spokeswoman. Airplanes and helicopters have been reserved and are beginning to arrive in the country, she said in an interview in Kinshasa on Monday.

Logistical support for the polls is part of Monusco’s mandate and “until we have evidence of the opposite it’s still in the resolution that the Security Council wishes us to continue and be ready if the request is ever made,” Marchal said.

Monusco transported 4,000 metric tons of materials last year to help the electoral commission, known as CENI, create an electoral register. The UN agency was also asked by CENI to submit a logistical support plan in November 2017, Marchal said.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council on July 26 that he “expects the DRC government to take advantage of the support” on offer. “We have not yet seen evidence of how the Electoral Commission would organize elections without Monusco’s assistance,” he said.

Congo is the world’s largest cobalt producer and Africa’s biggest copper miner. The government announced a $6.4 billion annual budget in December.

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