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Calm returns after sporadic gunfire

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MISNA - November 11, 2006 11:45 AM

Despite the tension, calm appears to have returned to the Gombe quarter of Kinshasa, where there were isolated shooting incidents. The gunfire raised fears of a resumption of the clashes between militias tied to vice-president Bemba and president Kabila.

MISNA sources confirm that mortars and heavy munitions were fired in the area of the Gombe cemetery, not far from Bemba's home, though it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the gunfire. Earlier, a demonstration by supporters of Bemba had been dispersed by police. Militias guarding Bemba left his residence heavily armed, heading toward the cemetery, after which some gunshots were heard. There appears not to have been any clash with the Republican guard that protects Kabila. An AFP photographer said he saw at least one of Bemba militiamen being wounded.

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Congo, MONUC, strengthened security in the area and sent some armored vehicles near bemba's home. Bemba, former rebel leader, enjoys popular support in Kinshasa. On the vote front, representatives from Bemba's aprty have denounced 'systematic errors' in the provisional vote count diffused by the independent electoral commission (CEI), in view of the announcement of the final results on November 19.

So far, after two thirds of the ballots have been counted, outgoing head of state Kabila maintains a string lead, with some 60% of the vote compared to Bemba's 40%. The vote represents the decisive step in the difficult path to lead the country away from a crisis of war and instability that lasted ten years, marked by a conflict that left over three million dead, disease and hunger.


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