Wien, 30. October 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "A sign of hope for democracy in Africa"

30.10.2006

Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the holding of presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Vienna, 30 October 2006 - "The holding of elections in Congo gives hope for a strengthening of democracy in the whole of Africa," commented Foreign Minister Plassnik in praise of yesterday’s mostly peaceful run-off election between incumbent President Joseph Kabila and his challenger, Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba.

"The conduct of the first free elections in 40 years was not a matter of course. For this, special tribute has to be paid to the Congolese people. Despite adverse conditions, the Congolese insisted on making use of their right to vote. The joint declaration by the two presidential candidates on the eve of the elections was also an encouraging sign. I count on the implementation of the promises made and on the full recognition of the election result. This would bring the democratic development process in Congo an important step forward," continued Plassnik.

"These elections were an important event not only for the Congolese but also for the international community. The unique cooperation between the UN and the EU in safeguarding the elections has shown that tremendous challenges can be met through joint efforts," said Plassnik, referring in particular to the role of the EU, which supported the elections with regard to both content and funding. Through its EUFOR RD Congo military support mission, which also includes one officer of the Austrian Armed Forces, the EU played a decisive part in creating a safe election environment.

"The Congo is a key country for the entire African continent. Its positive development has a decisive influence on the stabilisation of the entire region. It is therefore imperative to continue to support the Congolese people who have embarked upon the path to democracy," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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