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Court urged to invalidate Kabila candidature

KINSHASA, 14 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - The Supreme Court in the Democratic Republic of Congo is set to examine a petition against President Joseph Kabila's candidature in general elections set for later this year.

Andre-Alain Atundu Liongo, the president of the Holy Alliance, a group opposed to Kabila, filed the suit on Wednesday claiming that Kabila was ineligible to contest the country's presidency as he was still a member of the army. According to Congolese law, passed after a referendum in December 2005, no member of the army, police or the civil service is eligible to contest public office. Those wishing to do so must produce a letter showing they have left government service.

"Maj-Gen Kabila's candidacy was accepted yet he did not have the army permission, this is in violation of the law," Atundu said in his suit. The Supreme Court is expected to give a verdict in coming days.

The country's Independent Electoral Commission, known by its French acronym CEI, recently accepted Kabila's application, along with those for 31 other presidential aspirants. The CEI said Kabila's name was not listed on a list given to it by the staff general of the Congolese army.

"Kabila is no longer a soldier in function, his candidature does not pose a problem because the law prohibits [active] soldiers from presenting their candidature," Shadari Ramazani, an officer in charge of elections in Kabila's political party, the People's Party for Reconstruction and Development.

However, Atundu said: "Kabila has not been dismissed from the army, thus his candidature violates the constitutional law."

Kabila was army chief of general staff, with the rank of Maj-Gen, when he succeeded his father, Laurent Kabila, who was killed by one of his bodyguards in January 2001. The forthcoming general elections will be the first democratic ones since the country's independence from Belgium in 1960.

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