Over 70 eye DRC Presidency

By the time the registration of candidates in the 2006 election closed Sunday, 72 candidates had put themselves forward for the presidency and more than 4 000 for the 500 posts up for grabs in the legislative elections, the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) said. One western election expert said the “large number of presidential candidates shows how far we are from the spirit of national reconciliation advocated by the global agreement”. The 2003 agreement set out a timetable for political transition following nearly five years of civil war in DRC. The expert predicted that many of the candidates would withdraw before the first round of the presidential election following a period of “bargaining with the major parties, notably that of president Joseph Kabila”. “Everyone is in it for themselves, hoping to get from negotiations what they won’t get from the vote,” he continued. One diplomat working in Kinshasa said the absence of the main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) of former prime minister Etienne Tshisekedi, which is boycotting this year’s elections, would “ultimately benefit Kabila by preventing a polarisation of the vote”. The persistence of pockets of insecurity in the eastern provinces, where local and foreign armed groups remain active, could prevent the holding of elections in some areas. The elections, initially fixed for June 18, are due to be subject to a new electoral schedule to be announced by the CEI on Tuesday. The speaker of parliament, Olivier Kamitatu, on Monday told reporters he was quitting the post to comply with ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice, made at the request of Kabila, that members of parliament who had changed their political allegiances should leave office. ‘ Sapa-AFP.

April 2006
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