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Kabila Seals New Deal Ahead of Congo Vote

VOA News - October 20, 2006

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Joseph Kabila has sealed another alliance before a second round vote October 29 against former rebel leader Jean Pierre Bemba.

President Joseph Kabila speaks at signing of accord between his party, AMP (Alliance for the Presidential Majority), and UDEMO party (Union of Democratic Mobutuists)
President Joseph Kabila speaks at signing of accord between his party, AMP (Alliance for the Presidential Majority), and UDEMO party (Union of Democratic Mobutuists)
Nzanga Mobutu called on members of his party to vote for Mr. Kabila in the run-off vote. He said it was part of a deal to allow the Union of Democratic Mobutists to play a key role in Mr. Kabila's post election government.

Mobutu came in fourth in the first round, with nearly five-percent of the vote. He did well in western areas where Mr. Kabila did poorly. He had previously announced his backing of Mr. Kabila but had not explained the details.

Nzanga Mobutu is the son of former long-standing ruler Mobutu Sese Seko who was overthrown by President Kabila's father, Laurent Desire Kabila.

Mr. Kabila, who was installed as president after his father was assassinated, said the deal marked a new era of partnership rather than individual divisions.

He also said it put an end to discussions of an east and west divide.

Mr. Bemba got just 20 percent in the July 30 first round to Mr. Kabila's nearly 45 percent, but their votes were clearly split along geographic lines. Mr. Kabila won nearly all votes in the east.

Opponents of Mr. Kabila allege he is not Congolese, and not even the son of Laurent Desire Kabila, charges that are repeatedly denied by the presidential camp.

Whatever his origins, the current transitional president has also gotten the support of third place first round finisher Antoine Gizenga, in exchange for a prime minister's post in case of victory. Like Mobutu, Gizenga is from the west.

Mr. Bemba, a vice-president in the current government, is getting the support of many youths who boycotted the first round saying it was tilted in Mr. Kabila's favor. Supporters from the two camps have clashed repeatedly in the first few days of the short second-round campaign.

Meanwhile, the European rapid reaction force, EUFOR, which is helping the U.N. peacekeeping force, says it will resume flying drones, after determining the most recent crash of one of these drones was an accident. These will help monitor possible troop movements of the rival camps, which continue to have their own private guards.

The October 29 election is aimed at ending decades of misrule, corruption, and war in the large, mineral rich, but impoverished Congo.

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