William Lacy Swing, who is also the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, told a commission of the country’s Transitional Parliament yesterday in the capital, Kinshasa, that most of the necessary electoral laws have not been put to a parliamentary vote.Mr. Swing confirmed that the UN Organization Mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym of MONUC, was prepared to help the Congolese run elections next year as mandated under the DRC’s peace agreement.But he said issues such as the treatment of refugees, the presence of armed foreign troops on Congolese territory and the demobilization of local armed groups must be resolved.Mr. Swing added that the number of ex-combatants from neighbouring countries being successfully repatriated could double over the next few months. So far, more than 5,000 former fighters from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda have returned to their home countries.Meanwhile, at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, MONUC’s outgoing Force Commander, General Mountaga Diallo, said the DRC’s security situation was progressively improving, especially in the east.But he also echoed Mr. Swing’s view that several immediate challenges remain for MONUC, particularly the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of armed foreign soldiers.In another development, a strategic road between Bunia and Kasenyi, near Lake Albert in the country’s northeast, was re-opened after joint work by MONUC and a German non-governmental organization (NGO) called Agro Action Allemande.By encouraging trade between local communities, the re-opened road is expected to promote reconciliation in the Ituri region.

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