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Suspend poll campaigns, 19 presidential candidates say

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©  Hugo Rami/IRIN

A man in T-shirt bearing the picture of a candidate in Kisangani, Orientale Province.

KINSHASA, 5 Jul 2006 (IRIN) - Nineteen out of 33 presidential candidates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have called for the suspension of ongoing election campaigns to allow for what they term as "transparency" in the country's first democratic elections in 45 years.

"We want the campaigns to be suspended to rid the process of irregularities," Gerard Kamanda Wa Kamanda, one of the presidential candidates and minister in charge of scientific research in the transitional government, told a news conference in the capital Kinshasa on Tuesday.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 30 July. Election campaigns officially began on 30 June.

"We have practically boycotted the campaigns because we cannot allow cheating to advance the victory of one man," Roger Lumbala, another presidential candidate and leader of the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie-National (RCD-N), said.

The 19 candidates claimed 10 million extra ballots had been printed and that there had been fraudulent enrolment of at least 60,000 foreigners in the southwestern border of the country, and several thousands more in the eastern border. They also decried the absence of a voters' list.

However, the president of the National Independent Electoral Commission, Apollinaire Malumalu, said there were five million extra ballots constituting strategic stock to allow civil servants and reporters to vote wherever they might be on official duty during the elections. He added that the extra ballots would be reduced to two million.

The call to suspend the election campaigns came on the first day of political consultations organised by three of the country's vice presidents. The three are lobbying for the inclusion of all people still outside the electoral process to allow for peaceful elections. The talks were suspended following the absence of President Joseph Kabila and veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, of the Union pour la democratie et le progres social party (UPDS), which is boycotting the elections.

The campaigns kicked off to a slow start on 30 June with Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba being the only candidates campaigning on television. The other candidates have printed posters while others have not started campaigning.

The son of former President Mobutu Sese Seko, Zanga Mobutu; and Lumumba Guy Patrice, the son of the country's first prime minister Emery Patrice Lumumba, were among the 19 candidates calling for suspension of the election campaigns.


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