Runoff Elections to Take Place between Presidental Rivals

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No clear winner emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) historic Presidential elections last July as both candidates fell short of gaining 50% of the votes.  Interim President Joseph Kabila of the Party of People for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) will face each other in a runoff election scheduled on October 29th.  The presidential results reflect a geo-political split between Eastern and Western Congo with Kabila winning a landslide of the votes in Eastern Congo and Bemba prevailing in the Western regions and Kinshasa.  The national results reveal that Kabila and Bemba won 45% and 20% of the votes respectively.

Tensions continue to rise in the DRC after violence erupted between armed troops from the Presidential candidates’ camps.  The UN Mission to the DRC (MONUC) continues to disarm Congolese militias throughout the country but the personal security forces of Kabila and Bemba refuse to disarm. Neither candidate called for an end to the violence that left 23 people dead in Kinshasa.  The international community fears that recent violence could undermine the runoff elections in October.  In their latest press conference, MONUC expressed concern about the large number of weapons circulating Kinshasa and the implications that has for upcoming elections.

The first meeting between Kabila and Bemba since the outbreak of violence in August took place yesterday.  After shaking hands in public, both Kabila and Bemba refused to comment on the details of their meeting.

On Tuesday, the Committee on International Relations met at the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss Senate Bill 2125 —the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Recovery, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006—which pushes for U.S. financial and tactical support of the ongoing peace process in the DRC.  The passage of this bill is imperative to strengthen formal U.S. investment in the Congo during this critical time.  Be a part of the DRC’s movement towards peace by urging your representatives to support Senate Bill 2125 as it moves through Congress.

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