asked Her Majesty's Government:
In the light of funding provided by the Department for International Development for the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, what is their assessment of the current state of the pre-election preparations.[HL6864]
Organising the elections in the DRC is a difficult task in a country the size of Western Europe and with few roads or other transport infrastructure. Despite the immense technical and logistical challenges, the plans of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), supported by the UN and international community, are on track, and we are confident that the IEC will be ready to administer presidential and parliamentary elections on 30 July. The final electoral list will be published this week. With assistance from the international community, the IEC is training staff for over 40,000 polling stations; and printing and deploying ballot papers across the country.
DfID, working with the South African police service, is supporting the Congolese police to prepare for providing a safe environment for voting. Essential communications equipment will be fully deployed and police trained in its use. Knowledge of the elections remains limited in many areas. We are also supporting a national multi-faith coalition to deliver civic and voter education to help address this but lack of knowledge about the electoral process will be an issue on polling day.
Presidential candidates and parliamentary candidates, started campaigning on 29 June. DRC's media authority is overseeing the organisation of radio and TV debates. The UK, in concert with other international partners is closely monitoring the campaign and has called for the authorities to respect the freedoms of all candidates.
Observers are crucial to giving the people of DRC confidence in the electoral process. DfID is supporting up to 50,000 national observers, and observers from the Carter Center. The UK will participate in the 300-plus EU observer mission, and an observer mission from the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa. Further missions are expected from the African Union and SADC.
The UK is the largest bilateral donor to the elections in DRC, providing £25 million for the elections process and elections security. The Government are also heavily engaged politically in supporting preparations for credible, fair elections in DRC.