Dermot Ahern, T.D., Announces Contribution of €500,000 to Support Historic Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., today announced that Ireland has decided to provide €500,000 to support the holding of national elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006. The announcement was made following a meeting at the United Nations in New York between the Minister and his Congolese counterpart, Mr. Raymond Ramazani Baya.
“I was delighted to meet with Minister Ramazani Baya today and review progress in the DRC peace process. The presidential and parliamentary elections which will take place in the DRC next Spring will represent a truly historic juncture for that country as it emerges from a period of profound conflict which claimed upwards of 3 million lives”, the Minister stated in announcing the contribution.
“Ireland is determined to help the people of the DRC as they work to complete the transition process and attempt the process of reconstruction and reconciliation in a country which has endured so much in recent years. It is incumbent on the international community to do what it can to ensure that the present peace process in the DRC succeeds and that the people of the DRC have the opportunity, for the first time in over forty years, to elect their leaders.”
“Successful elections in the DRC are also key for promoting peace and security throughout the Great Lakes region of Africa as a whole. I am satisfied that this contribution by Ireland demonstrates our commitment to, and solidarity with, the people of the DRC and will reinforce the substantial international efforts already underway to ensure a successful outcome to the electoral process in the DRC”, the Minister concluded.
Note for Editors
Minister Ahern met with his Democratic Republic of the Congo counterpart, Mr. Ramazani Baya, in New York where both ministers are attending the opening of the UN General Assembly.
Under the provisions of the 2002 peace accords which brought the conflict in the DRC to an end, national elections are required to take place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by no later than 30 June, 2006. Although no definite date has been set as yet for the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held, it is expected that they will take place in the first half of 2006. The elections are estimated to cost in the region of US$400 million to organise, given the size of the DRC (as big as Western Europe), the paucity of basic infrastructure and ongoing security problems in the eastern part of the DRC. However, so far only around US$250 million of this total has been pledged, leaving a shortfall of US$150 million. Voter registration of the estimated 28 million eligible to vote began in June and, to date, more than 8 million people have registered.
The contribution of €500,000 which Ireland is making in support of the electoral process will be directed to the special Trust Fund established and administered by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) to meet the costs of the election. Ireland is already providing support to the transition process in the DRC through the provision of three military personnel who serve with MONUC, the UN peace-keeping mission in the DRC, while substantial development assistance, amounting to some €3.5 million in 2004, is also being made available to the DRC by Development Cooperation Ireland.
19 September 2005