Football superstar Didier Drogba kicks off campaign highlighting fair elections

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) is greeted by Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa in Johannesburg prior to the kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 11 June 2010/Photo:UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Ivorian soccer striker and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Didier Drogbaon 28 October unveiled a poster in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with a message urging voters to ‘Get on the pitch, and be a player. Register. Vote. Be heard.’ The message is part of a UN- sponsored fairelections campaign in Africa.

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The campaign is intended to highlight the capacity of democratic and transparent elections around the world to lift people in some of the world’s poorest countries out of poverty through accountable and transparent governance, according to a UN press release.

The poster features Mr. Drogba, who led the Côte d’Ivoire team to its first-ever football World Cup final in 2006, poised for a penalty shootout in the home orange-green colours of his country’s squad.

‘For real development to happen, we must ensure free and transparent elections,’ said Mr. Drogba. ‘I believe that good governance can help break countries out of poverty, as long as electors and politicians fully do their part,’ he said.

 ‘My ambition is to help contribute to a true democracy in Africa. That’s why I advocate honesty and play fair – the only way for Africa to move ahead,’ Mr. Drogba said.

Born in Abidjan in 1978, Drogba spent his childhood in Côte d’Ivoire and France. He currently plays for Chelsea F.C. of the English Premier League.

Didier Drogba is one of an elite group of UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors who share a deep concern for the world’s poor and a commitment to making the planet a better place for all, ridding it of poverty, combating HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, protecting human rights, and empowering women.

The DRC is due to hold a series of elections over the next three years, including presidential, legislative, provincial and municipal polls. Elections are due in several other countries in Africa, where the majority of the world’s least developed countries are situated, over the coming years.

Preparations for fair and transparent elections in the DRC are supported by UNDP as part of a $390 million initiative signed with the country’s Government in 2008.

On 14 June 2010 Drogba teamed up with another soccer star and Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP, Zinedine Zidane, aiming to harness public excitement about the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa to advance efforts to slash poverty, fight hunger and tackle other key social and economic problems.

The two launched a television announcement at the world’s biggest sporting event, exhorting the world to make a concerted effort to help millions of people free themselves from poverty through the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

‘The World Cup brings people around the globe together to support their national teams, and we need the same kind of passion to end poverty and hunger, said Mr. Zidane, a former French national captain.

UN News