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Majority coalition in parliament backs Kabila

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©  Independent Electoral Commission (CEI)

Parties backing transitional President Joseph Kabila in upcoming second-round polls gain majority in parliament.

KINSHASA, 29 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - A coalition of political parties backing transitional President Joseph Kabila in upcoming second-round polls in the Democratic Republic of Congo has achieved a majority in the new parliament with 300 out of 500 seats, according to a spokesman for the coalition.

"With this enormous majority, the AMP [Alliance pour la majorité présidentielle] is ready to do battle," Olivier Kamitatu, AMP's spokesman, said on Thursday. "We are hoping for a victory that gives Kabila 80 percent so that he clearly has legitimacy."

Kabila's coalition includes the party of veteran politician Antoine Gizenga, who in the first round of presidential elections on 30 July came third; and Zanga Mobutu, the son of the late president, Mobuto Sese Seko, who came in fourth.

The second round of presidential polls, to be held on 29 October, will be a run-off between Kabila, who took 44.8 percent of the first-round vote, and Jean-Pierre Bemba, who won 20 percent. In the parliament, Kabila's Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie premiere took 111 of the 500 seats, while Bemba's Mouvement de libération du Congo won 64 seats.

Bemba is fashioning his own political coalition, which includes 15 of the 33 other presidential candidates who ran in the first round.

The long-standing opposition, l'Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, led by Etienne Tshisekedi, which has been boycotting the election process, is now divided over whether to support Bemba or maintain the boycott.

The two presidential hopefuls can only begin their campaign 15 days before the vote; however, the campaign for provincial legislative elections, also scheduled for 29 October, is 30 days' long and began on Thursday.

By Friday, banners and poster for some of the 13,376 candidates began appearing on the streets of major towns around the country. The Independent Electoral Commission is setting up 50,045 voting centres nationwide.

Winners of seats in each of the 11 provincial assemblies will then choose members for the national Senate.

The new constitution, approved by voters in December 2005, gives increased autonomy to the provinces. It also calls for the expansion of the country's current 11 provinces into 25 within the next three years.

Ei/dh/oss/mw


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