Wien, 31. July 2006 Press release

Plassnik: “Democracy is beginning to strike root in Congo”

31.07.2006

Foreign Minister Plassnik on elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Vienna, 31 July 2006 - "Yesterday’s elections in Congo were the first free elections in 40 years. The challenges were tremendous. The fact that the elections were carried out peacefully was not a matter of course. After decades of internal strife the Congolese people have impressively embarked on a course towards democracy. For this we have to pay tribute to the Congolese. With this election democracy is starting to strike root in Congo," said the Foreign Minister.

"This is also an important day for the United Nations and the European Union. The unique mission of the EU and the UN, which has been unmatched to date, shows how you can overcome tremendous challenges through common persistent work. It has paved the way for democracy in Congo," continued Plassnik.

In addition to 17,000 UN soldiers, the EU provided 2,000 soldiers to safeguard the elections. Moreover, the EU supported the elections that were organised by the UN by funding them with an amount of 149 million euros and by sending 300 election observers.

"The Congo is a key country at the very centre of Africa. Its positive development is important for the stabilisation and progress of the entire region. New perspectives have opened up for the people in Congo. They will also have to be monitored and supported in the future," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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