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Candidates registered, election date undecided

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KINSHASA, 5 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - Some 73 presidential candidates have registered for the upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but the main opposition leader was not among them and the commission has not set a date for the elections.

"Before we can fix a new date for the elections, it is necessary to wait until the printing companies tell us how long it will take to produce the thousands of ballots," said the president of the independent electoral commission, Apollinaire Malumalu, at a press conference in Kinshasa, the capital, on Tuesday.

The elections had been scheduled for 18 June, but the commission said polling would take place later, because it had extended the candidate-registration period by 10 days. That period ended on Sunday, without long-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. He and his party, l'Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS), said they were boycotting the elections because they had been excluded from the election commission and the organisation overseeing fair media coverage during the campaign, said party spokesman Jean-Baptiste Bomanza.

"We want to participate in elections that are fully transparent," he said. "There won't be elections in the Congo without Etienne Tshisekedi and the UDPS, because the Congolese people who support us will not let this farce continue."

After the registration period closed, Tshisekedi said he and his party would participate in the election if the registration period were extended further. The electoral commission refused.

Another political party with the same name did register for the elections. It has agreed to use the name UDPS-Ngoyi Mukena, using the name of its party leader.

The commission said that a total of 8,650 candidates have registered to run in the legislative elections.


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