Daily News  :: Central Africa

Kabila ahead DRC vote so far

Published: 07-NOV-06

Kinshasa - Joseph Kabila, the outgoing president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was still ahead of his challenger, vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba, according to partial results of their election run-off.

Kabila had 69.68 percent of the vote, compared to 30.32 percent for Bemba, according to unofficial results based on 11.2 percent of ballots counted.

The tally was compiled on the basis of the results from 28 of the country's 169 voting constituencies, published on the website of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI). Turnout in the 28 constituencies was 65.4 percent, the CEI said.

The electoral commission stressed that the results were provisional and could be subject to change. Full results from the election were not expected until November 19. The winner would be formally announced no later than November 30.

The second-round ballot on October 29 was the culmination of the first democratic electoral process in the DRC in more than four decades. It completed a three-year transition period that started with the end of a devastating 1998-2003 civil war, which had also embroiled the armies of at least six neighbouring countries.

Tuesday's partial results showed the conflict-shattered country was still sharply divided.

Kabila won 92 to 93 percent of the votes in the eastern DRC, bordering Rwanda and Uganda, where turnout was on average 75 percent. The volatile east was arguably the region worst affected by the civil war and violence continues to rage there, three years after the conflict officially ended.

Bemba's strongest showing was in the centre, also with 92 to 93 percent of the vote, albeit on a turnout of only 33 percent.

In his northwestern fiefdom, the province of Equateur, Bemba easily outranked Kabila, gaining 86 to 93 percent of the vote on high turnout. He was also leading in the southwestern province of Bas Congo, on an average turnout of 53.2 percent.

The DRC's media watchdog condemned both camps on November 4 for claiming victory when fewer than half the votes had been counted.

Results were slow to compile in the vast Central African country, with ballots being brought in from remote villages across rugged terrain. Tensions remain high during the count, following violent clashes between supporters of the two rivals. Overall, however, the elections have run well.

The announcement of the first-round results in August, which put Kabila in the lead, led to fighting in the capital, Kinshasa, between the presidential guard and Bemba's militia. At least 23 people were killed. Sapa-AFP

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