Members of the UN Security Council on Thursday went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to see first-hand the electoral process prior to the December elections.
The mission is headed up by Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea and France. Bolivia is this month’s president of the Council and France is the council member responsible for writing resolutions on the DRC.
They are expected to return to New York on Monday.
The DRC is a nation as large as Western Europe, but infamously known for various fighting groups, including some with child soldiers, and as a difficult and confounding one to travel in.
The most effective way of traveling within the country is by air because of distances. Congolese in rural areas travel mainly by boat on the many winding rivers lacing the country which faces a lack of good roadways.
That may be one reason council members are expected to stay in the capital Kinshasa and concentrate on the political situation.
President Joseph Kabila so far has honored his own pledge to not run in the Dec. 23 balloting. His second and final term ended Dec. 31, 2016 and although he has remained in power since, he now promises to not run and step down at the end of this year.
However, the council was not able — as of Thursday — to confirm a meeting with Kabila, although it has secured appointments with members of the opposition, according to a UN spokesman.
The now 17,000-plus member UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) is the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping force.
MONUSCO reports that the electoral calendar seems rather well respected and that even though the election campaign has not started yet, there is like a pre-campaign mood in almost all media, opposition and majority alike.
A major concern often voiced is that Kabila might enter the race at the last minute.