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Bemba rejects poll results

©  MS Encarta/Kimmo Montyla

Jean-Pierre Bemba

KINSHASA, 17 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Jean-Pierre Bemba, challenger to President Joseph Kabila, has rejected the provisional results of the run-off presidential poll announced by the Democratic Republic of Congo's Independent Electoral Commission.

"I regret to say to our people and the international community that I cannot accept the results that are far from reflecting the truth of the election results," Bemba told a news conference on Thursday in the capital, Kinshasa.

The commission announced on Wednesday that Kabila had won the 29 October poll by garnering 58 percent of the vote, against Bemba's 43.5 percent.

"I promise to use all the legal channels to respect the will of our people," Bemba said, without giving details of what he planned to do.

Bemba accused the electoral commission of failing to notify the candidates of the results 48 hours earlier - as agreed - to give them time to react. He said he was surprised to learn of the results through the media.

He said about 1,481,291 people voted outside the areas where they had registered, representing 10 percent of the votes cast. Because of this, Bemba said, he had submitted six complaints to the electoral commission.

"The commission only replied to two of my complaints and in a non-satisfactory manner," he said.

A political coalition known as Union pour la Nation that supports Bemba's candidature had, two days earlier, indicated that according to the results of the 'procès verbaux' of their witnesses, Bemba was in the lead with 52.2 percent of the votes, contrary to the commission's provisional results.

The commission's provisional results are subject to endorsement by the country's Supreme Court.

The presidential poll marks the end of the DRC's three-year transition to democracy. The elections, which began in June with the first presidential round and parliamentary polls, were the first democratic elections in the country in 40 years.

Civil war in the DRC officially ended in 2003, marking the beginning of the transition, but parts of the vast country, especially the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, as well as the northeastern district of Ituri, have remained volatile because of activities by militias and other armed groups.


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