The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on political actors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to work together for a free and fair elections on Sunday.
Guterres, in a statement, also encouraged all Congolese citizens to seize “this historic opportunity” to participate in the consolidation of the country’s democratic institutions.
The UN chief also reminded those with a stake in the outcome of their “critical role” in preventing electoral violence, by refraining from any form of provocation and showing maximum restraint in what they say and do.
He urged everyone to protect and ensure safe access to health facilities in Ebola affected areas, amid serious concerns, expressed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO had warned that recent violence in the country’s east could reverse important gains made against the disease and increase transmission.
In a separate statement, Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director General of WHO, said that the agency was “doing everything possible” to assist those affected by the deadly Ebola in eastern DRC in spite of deteriorating security situation.
Protests have reportedly erupted in three key towns – Beni, Butembo and Yumbi – following the Government’s decision to postpone elections there, amid fears of Ebola transmission, and an uptick in violence by armed groups.
Meanwhile, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, Leila Zerrougui, voiced regret over the postponement of elections in Beni, Butembo and Yumbi, on account of the Ebola outbreak.
“I was informed that there was a health concern with the hundreds of people passing by and touching a screen. I understand this concern.
“Personally, I regret that the people of Beni and Butembo, who have suffered much for years cannot vote,” Zerrougui added.
To mitigate the threat of Ebola transmission during the elections, the UN mission is working to place hand-washing and cleaning facilities at the entrance to polling stations.