Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pro-Kabila Forces Lead in DRC Elections

Fraud allegations delay DRC results

Tue, 05 Sep 2006

Partial legislative election results released on Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo gave parties loyal to President Joseph Kabila a commanding lead, but allegations of voting fraud forced a three-day delay in the final count.

The 31-party Alliance of the Presidential Majority, headed by the 35-year-old president, gained 169 out of the 341 parliamentary seats for which results have so far been counted, according to the results published on the electoral commission's website and added together by AFP.

The Rally of Congolese Nationalists (Renaco), the opposition bloc supporting Kabila's main rival Jean-Pierre Bemba, was in second place with 47 seats.

The national assembly holds 500 seats altogether.

Meanwhile full provisional results, scheduled to be released on Monday, were postponed to Thursday after 10 officials were detained on suspicion of forging results in favour of the opposition Congolese Rally for Democracy, independent electoral commission official Dieudonne Mirimo said.

"This led the CIE to undertake a re-checking of the data" for Kinshasa, he said. The RCD is the party of one of the country's four vice-presidents, Azarias Ruberwa.

Similar results two weeks ago from the first round of presidential voting which took place on the same day as the legislative vote sparked violent clashes between the rival camps and left 23 people dead.

The first-round presidential results gave 44.8 percent to Kabila and 20 percent to Bemba.

Bitter political rivals signed an accord

The bitter political rivals signed an accord to remove their troops from the city centre and to establish ground rules for the October 29 run-off vote.

A hoped-for meeting between Kabila and Bemba, which observers say could ease sharp tensions in Kinshasa and elsewhere in the country, could also take place as soon as Tuesday, said a source in the UN mission in the DRC known as MONUC.

MONUC and the 1 000-strong European EUFOR force in Kinshasa continued to patrol the capital.

No clashes were reported on Monday, but the city remained tense as public and private transport workers, along with school teachers in Kinshasa and other major cities, went on strike.

Teachers were calling for higher pay, while mini-bus and taxi drivers stayed away from work to protest what they described as police extortion and racketeering. Late on Monday organizers called for the drivers to go back to work.

The remaining legislative seats tallied on Monday have gone to independents and smaller parties, including one led by the country's ex-central bank governor, Pierre Pay Pay, who had garnered 24 seats.

Ballots remained to be counted notably in Kinshasa, which accounts for 58 seats and where Bemba enjoys strong support, as well as in the western province of Bandudu.

The July 30 elections — the country's first multi-party polls in 46 years — were a key step in the political transition of the vast central African nation after it emerged in 2003 from a bloody five-year civil war.

Kinshasa has been relatively calm since the two rival camps agreed to the billeting of their troops, although the deal has not been completely adhered to.

Supreme Court finished hearing appeals

Also on Monday, the country's supreme court said it had finished hearing appeals over the first round of the presidential election and would officially announce the final first-round results on Tuesday.

Eight appeals had been lodged, including ones alleging voting fraud, bribery and ballot-stuffing.

A court source speaking on condition of anonymity said that none of the appeals against the first-round count had affected the outcome, due to the width of the lead Kabila held over Bemba.

The lead did not give Kabila the absolute majority needed to win outright under electoral rules, however, making the October 29 run-off necessary.

The European Union announced on Monday that it had released €16 million ($20 million) to help fund the presidential second round, which will coincide with other provincial elections.


No comments: