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Kabila, Bemba meet in efforts to maintain calm

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A voter in South Kivu casting his ballot during the recent polls

KINSHASA, 8 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Congolese presidential contenders Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba have met in the capital, Kinshasa, in a bid to ensure that calm prevails when the results of the run-off election are announced, a spokesman for Kabila said on Wednesday.

The results are due to be released on 19 November.

Spokesman, Kasongo Kudura, said neither man spoke to the media after their meeting but they released a communiqué reflecting their sentiments.

"The president, Joseph Kabila, and the vice-president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, invite the entire population to remain calm, respect national institutions and the laws of the republic, and avoid acts of provocation and of violence," Kudura said.

"They renewed their commitment to accept the results of the ballot; that they would not dispute the results through the use of force; would not encourage the popular uprising; would not support any other form of violence; and would only resort to legal means to claim their rights," Kudura added.

The Kabila-Bemba meeting was in line with their undertaking on conduct during the post-electoral period, requiring the loser to call for public calm.

So far, nearly 11 percent of the results, released by local compilation centres, have been posted on the website of the Independent Electoral Commission. It has said it would only endorse these preliminary results at the end of the vote-counting process nationwide. According to the votes counted so far, Kabila has close to 70 percent of the vote and Bemba 30 percent.

"But it is still too early for the press to launch into speculation," about who is likely to win, Dieudonne Mirimo, the commission's rapporteur, said.

He said in the interest of transparency and for verification, the results were being released daily to the parties of the respective candidates: Kabila's Alliance pour la majorite presidentielle, and Bemba's Mouvement de Liberation du Congo.

"This step is aimed at making the process more transparent and to avoid disputes," Mirimo said.

So far, both sides have expressed satisfaction with the fairness of the vote-counting process. The coordinator of a group of Bemba supporters, called Union pour la nation, said he had not noted any abnormalities.

"Win or lose, we will be the first to know," Francois Muamba, the union's coordinator, said.

Information Minister Henri Sakanyi, who is also a member of Kabila's party, said: "We are increasingly certain that any disputed result would not be done in a barbarous manner."


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