President Mbeki wishes DRC a successful Constitutional Referendum

Tshwane - 17 December 2005 - President Thabo Mbeki has conveyed a message of support to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the eve of the country's constitutional referendum, to be conducted Sunday December 18.

President Mbeki has spoken yesterday to President Joseph Kabila wishing the Congolese people success in tomorrow's historic constitutional referendum.

He said the referendum is a historic moment for the DRC and the African continent as a whole because it serves to deepen the democratic processes set in motion by the peoples of the DRC and the continent, especially since the country has not participated in any democratic electoral process for a period of over forty years; the last elections having been held in 1960.

The President said: "This is a historic moment to be cherished by all following decades of hardship and devastating wars that have over the years ravaged the Democratic Republic of Congo. A successful referendum will pave the way for the country's elections set for 2006".

The constitutional referendum in the DRC, added President Mbeki, "will bring this major sister African country closer to the achievement of the goals important to our continent as a whole, of a stable peace, national unity, democracy, development and the eradication of poverty".

"We are encouraged by the close to 25 million Congolese voters who have registered to take part in the referendum, especially the high number of registrations in the volatile Kivu and Ituri regions. Indeed this is a clear signal that the Congolese people are determined to take their destiny into their hands."

President Mbeki encouraged the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to go out in their multitudes to cast their votes.

Accordingly, on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of South Africa, the President welcomed warmly the positive mood surrounding the DRC's path to a new democratic dispensation and wished the Congolese people a successful referendum despite the very difficult and challenging circumstances under which it is to be held.
"South Africa reaffirms its unwavering support to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and as before, will do all in its power to assist the Congolese people throughout the challenging transition to democracy", concluded President Mbeki.

Enquiries: Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.

Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs on 17 December 2005.

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