Violence in Congo after first round election results are announced

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Vote result map with Kabila's support is in red, Bemba's in blue, Gizenga's in green.

There have been three days of violent clashes in Kinshasa between supporters of Jean-Pierre Bemba and incumbent Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila following the release of results from the first round of Congo's elections. The two presidential candidates will face each other in a run off election October 29th after the first round of votes, July 30th, failed to produce a victor. The results were announced on Sunday with Kabila received 45% of the vote, short of the absolute majority required to avoid a run-off, while Bemba gained 20% and Antoine Gizenga won 13%. Bemba's support is concentrated in the western provinces of the country while Kabila's support is concentrated in the east.

Bemba's supporters claim that Kabila's presidential guard is attacking Bemba's house. Most downtown streets are deserted and shops closed as people stay in their homes to avoid the sporadic fighting which left five people dead on Sunday.

Kabila's rivals, including Bemba, claim there was widespread fraud in the elections.

400 European Union peacekeepers from the Netherlands and Germany currently stationed in neighbouring Gabon are flying into the capital to quell the fighting. Spanish EU troops and 17,000 United Nations peacekeepers are already in the capital.

The June 30 election was the first democratic vote to be held in the Congo since it gained independence in 1960 and occurs following the official end of five years of conflict.