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DR Congo: 42 EU observers deployed to country ahead of elections

Men ride a motorbike in front of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) political party headquarters as the electoral campaign begins on November 19, 2023.   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

The head of a European Union electoral mission to DR Congo on Tuesday announced the deployment of 42 initial observers to the country, ahead of a poll next month.

Malin Bjork, a Swedish MEP heading the mission, told reporters in the capital Kinshasa that 42 observers had arrived on November 17 and will soon be deployed in 17 out of 26 provinces in the vast central African nation.

"They will be our eyes and ears on the ground," she said.

Bjork also called for freedom of expression and assembly to be respected, and all violence or words of hatred to be rejected.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is scheduled to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on December 20. President Felix Tshisekedi, 60, is running for a second term in office.

The longterm EU observers will later be joined by 12 observers who will stay for a shorter period.

On the day of the vote, the EU electoral mission will also have between 80 and 100 people deployed across the country, Bjork said.

A delegation of 7 other members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will also be present.

Tshisekedi came to power in the 2018 election which numerous observers, including representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in the DRC, said were unfair.

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