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Democratic Republic of Congo

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the UK Government took (a) unilaterally and (b) multilaterally towards ensuring that the general election in Congo was free and fair. (102325)

The UK provided £30 million in bilateral support to the election process. UK officials also participated in the elections steering committee, advising the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) on voting procedures, transparency and logistics to assist them in holding free and fair elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UK funded Congolese election observation networks and observers sent from the UK, including eight hon. Members in the UK missions, supported the EU Electoral Observation Mission in both rounds of elections. Throughout the electoral process, the UK and international partners pressed candidates and political parties to respect the need to follow the CEI code of conduct and to ensure free and fair elections. We have encouraged any complaints on the conduct of the elections to be made through the appropriate legal channels.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and whether she plans to press for the intervention of the International Criminal Court where appropriate. (103418)

The security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains fragile, especially in the east and northeast. Kinshasa is tense following violence on 11 and 21 November linked to the announcement of provisional election results.

Congolese armed forces continue to be poorly paid, lack equipment and training and pose a threat to civilians. Congolese militia and foreign armed groups continue to operate in eastern DRC, and are responsible for abusing local populations.

The UK fully supports the International Criminal Court's (ICC) involvement in the DRC and its action to bring to justice alleged perpetrators of war crimes. Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese militia leader, is the first to be put on trial by the ICC. His indictment sends a strong message to armed groups in the DRC on the need to end impunity.