Congo Vote Disputed

Posted December 3rd, 2011 at 12:40 pm (UTC-5)
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A chaotic vote count continues in the Democratic Republic of Congo Saturday, as arguments fly over whether the vote and its tally are free and fair.

Congo's Independent National Election Commission told VOA Friday that President Joseph Kabila has taken an early lead over his main challenger, Etienne Tshisekedi.

But Tshisekedi's party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, has complained that the numbers are untrustworthy.

Outside at least one vote-counting center in the capital, Kinshasa, reports say bags of ballots have split open or been dumped out and are being trampled into the ground.

The vast central African country was scheduled to hold a one-day vote Monday, but polling continued through Wednesday after ballots and voter lists failed to arrive at some polling stations.

President Kabila is running for re-election against 10 challengers, three of whom have called for the vote to be annulled because of irregularities and logistical problems.

The election commission has said it will publish full provisional results by December 6th, when Mr. Kabila's term expires.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch said election-related violence killed at least 18 civilians and seriously wounded 100 others.

The U.N. Security Council condemned the violence and expressed concern about what it called “logistical and technical difficulties” during the vote.

A preliminary European Union report says election observers saw ballot box stuffing and ballot shortages, and that some people were turned away from the polls.

African Union and other African observers have said the election was successful despite logistical problems.

Congo's government has said it is bracing for possible violence following next week's announcement of the results.