Incidents of Unrest, Violence Mar DR Congo Elections

Posted November 28th, 2011 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Millions of Congolese voters cast ballots Monday in the country's second multi-party elections since the end of a brutal civil war in 2003.

There were reports of violence and accusations of fraud in some of Congo's major cities, though voting appeared to come off peacefully in many areas.

VOA correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the capital, Kinshasa, that police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who said they found ballots pre-marked in favor of incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

In the southern city of Lubumbashi, unidentified gunmen attacked a polling station and killed two policemen before burning some ballot boxes.

In Goma, independent election official Juvenal Biyamungu said clashes broke out after a man in charge of one polling station started tearing up ballot papers.

Biyamungu said at least two people were hospitalized.

Earlier in the day, police in Lubumbashi said gunmen attacked and set fire to two vehicles transporting election materials.

Congo's presidential race features Mr. Kabila running for re-election against 10 opposition candidates. In the legislative elections, more than 18,000 candidates are competing for 500 seats in the national assembly.

Mr. Kabila won the last presidential poll in 2006. He is widely expected to win re-election, in part because of a new voting system in which there is no run-off, meaning the candidate that gets the most votes on Monday is the winner.

His main challenger is longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who raised fears of unrest ahead of the poll when he proclaimed himself the winner in advance.

On Saturday, Congolese police blocked Mr. Tshisekedi and his supporters from leaving the airport for several hours. They fired bullets and tear gas, killing three and wounding several more.

Election results are expected by December 5, the day before Mr. Kabila's current term ends.

President Kabila has been in power since 2001, when he assumed the presidency after the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila.