Source Pravda.Ru

Security Council votes to beef up international police in Congo ahead of elections

U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to temporarily beef up the international police contingent in Congo so it can monitor the use of force by the country's national police and support the government security plan for next year's elections.

The resolution adopted by the council would add 841 international officers to the U.N. police unit in Congo, which had a previous ceiling of 475 police.

The council also approved Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendation for nine planes and 13 helicopters to deliver electoral material from the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, to 145 districts and 21 cities.

But the council has not yet taken any action on Annan's request to temporarily increase the 16,700-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo by more than 2,500 soldiers during the elections.

Congo's transitional government was supposed to hold elections on June 30 as part of a peace plan that ended a five-year war. But Parliament extended the two-year transition period in the plan by six months in June, pushing elections back to 2006.

In a recent report to the council, Annan noted that the elections will be the first national vote in Congo since 1965 and will involve a number of "formidable challenges" including reaching all eligible voters in a country the size of Europe with virtually no roads. In addition, he said, insecurity is rampant in some areas and political tensions are high in others.

The Security Council on Tuesday called on the transitional government and all Congolese parties "to ensure that free, fair and peaceful elections take place, and that the timetable for polls developed by the Independent Electoral Commission is scrupulously respected."

Council members also reiterated their serious concern at the continuing hostilities and human rights violations by armed groups and militias in eastern Congo which pose a threat to the holding of elections.

The resolution authorizes 625 additional international police to conduct joint duties and training sessions with the Congolese national police and help coordinate the response to any confrontations with crowds. The U.N. police would also monitor national police actions to ensure that the use of force is proportionate to the threat.

At the same time, an additional 216 police personnel were authorized to serve as advisers at the national and provincial level and to support the government's security plan for the elections which includes training the 18,500 national police offices.

The resolution asks Annan to take steps to reduce or send home the 841 additional U.N. police by July 1, 2006 at the latest, AP reported.

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