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I will not fight if I lose election - Bemba

Jean-Pierre Bemba - Joseph Kabila
©  MONUC/Myiram Asmani/IRIN

Presidential candidates Jean-Pierre Bemba (left) and Joseph Kabila

KINSHASA, 27 Oct 2006 (IRIN) - Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba has said he will not return to war if he loses in a free and fair second-round presidential poll due on Sunday.

"I will accept the decision of the ballot," he said on Thursday in the capital, Kinshasa.

Bemba, a former rebel leader, is running against the incumbent. President Joseph Kabila failed to attain the 51 percent of the vote in the first ballot needed to avoid a run-off.

Bemba also said he had cancelled a campaign rally scheduled for Friday in Kinshasa for security reasons.

"I do not want bloodshed in this city, for which I will be blamed," he said.

At least 13 people, including some policemen, were killed during one of Bemba's campaign rallies on 27 July in Kinshasa, according to the police. At least one million people fled Kinshasa after the violence.

Numerous incidents of violence have been reported in the run-up to the second round of the poll. The latest occurred on Thursday in the northwestern town of Gbadolite, Equateur Province.

Guards of former President Mobutu Sese Seko's son, Joseph François Zanga, exchanged gunfire with Bemba's at the latter's radio station. Four guards at the station and a police officer died. The shooting also led to the cancellation of a planned television debate between Bemba and Kabila.

According to the president of the media watchdog, Modeste Mutinga, the delegates for the two candidates failed to arrive at an agreement on what format the debate should take. Kabila's representatives were demanding that each candidate be recorded separately responding to similar questions from journalists while Bemba's group wanted a live face-to-face televised debate.

Kabila won 44.8 percent of the vote in the first round of the July elections against Bemba's 20 percent.


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