UNICEF pressures DRC ahead of vote

Nov. 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM
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KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The next government in the Democratic Republic of Congo will only be able to usher in a new era if it does more to protect its children, an activist said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has presidential elections later this month. UNICEF said more than 10 percent of the children born in the country die before they reach the age of 5.

"The government has to put a lot of himself to create a good educational environment for children that will help build a new Congo," said Jonas Kambiena, founder of the Human Rights Forum for Democracy and Good Governance, in a statement published by UNICEF.

"We'll achieve this new Congo only if we center our preoccupations on the education of Congolese children."

The U.N. Security Council said the DRC government was solely responsible for ensuring that presidential and legislative elections are fair and free of violence, noting the Nov. 28 election should be open to the media and afford all participants with the opportunity for constructive political debate.

Recent DRC conflicts were linked to tensions between incumbent President Joseph Kabila's People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

There are 10 challengers to Kabila on the November ballot. Another 18,000 have filed their names as candidates in the country's 500-member Parliament.

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