Da Mail & Guardian del 31/07/2006
Originale su http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=279370

DRC vote 'an example for Africa'

di Daniel Flynn, David Lewis

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo - International officials on Monday hailed Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) landmark elections at the weekend as an example to Africa and called on presidential candidates to accept the results.

After two leading candidates denounced problems during Sunday's voting, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer sent a clear message that the international community would not allow disgruntled losers to derail polls.

"The international community is united," Frazer told Reuters in an interview. "If the point is 'I didn't get enough votes, therefore it's not legitimate', then the regional leaders, the African Union leaders, will weigh in."

President Joseph Kabila is widely seen as favourite to win DRC's first free elections in more than 40 years. The polls are meant to cement peace in the vast former Belgian colony after a brutal 1998 to 2003 war which killed four million people.

But former rebel warlords Jean-Pierre Bemba and Azarias Ruberwa indicated on Sunday they would not accept the results, due within three weeks, if they felt the process was unfair.

Fraser, the highest-ranking foreign official to witness Sunday's election, said genuine complaints could be resolved via legal channels and said the vote set a precedent.

"Now we have done DRC we can do an election anywhere on the continent," she said.


ELDER STATESMEN

Senior African statesmen, grouped in an International Committee of Elders, said the massive turnout and mostly peaceful voting were an indication the DRC wanted peace, despite pre-election fears of violence.

"This has made the DRC an example for African elections," head of the committee, ex-Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, told a news conference. "The international community is here to help because peace in DRC is peace in Africa."

Faced with organising a vote in a country the size of Western Europe that lacks basic infrastructure, the international community invested $450-million in the polls.

Twenty-five million people across the vast country were eligible to vote under the watchful gaze of 17 000 United Nations troops, the world's biggest peacekeeping mission.

International observers noted some localised violence, particularly in southern Kasai provinces.

DRC's Independent Electoral Committee said that voting continued on Monday in more than 200 polling stations in Mbuji Mayi and Mweka, towns in southern and central DRC, to cover areas where opposition violence prevented polling on Sunday.

That represented just a tiny portion of the 50 000 polling booths used during Sunday's election.

The committee of elders said it would hold meetings on Monday with President Kabila and three vice-presidents to urge them to accept the election results, and would go on to hold discussions with all 32 presidential candidates.

"There must be no recourse to violence, we must dialogue, dialogue, dialogue," Chissano said.

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