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Congo's President Promises Elections

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Section: International News Geography: Africa Congo Topics: elections

October 25, 2004

Congo's President Promises Elections

Congo President Joseph Kabila visited the town of Kisangani in the rebel-controlled eastern part of the country last week in what appears to be a run-up to an election campaign. President Kabila recently reaffirmed his commitment to hold free elections in 2005 - the first in Congo since 1960.

He is campaigning on a "peace and security" platform: Congo will no longer tolerate foreign invaders, a promise that hits close to home in Kisangani which was pillaged by Ugandan and Rwandan troops in the 1998-2003 war. Kabila also promised to make peace with the rebels in the country's east and to begin paying civil servants, who have been living off of bribery for years.

President Kabila, who was installed as head of state following the assasination of his father, Laurent Kabila, in the failed coup of 2000, is the favourite to win the elections if they are held. His main opponent is the former rebel leader and Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is under investigation by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Azarias Ruberwas - another ex-rebel and vice-president - is even less popular, and his party is expected to lose most of its seats in the election, fueling fears that his faction may take up arms again.

In anticipation of elevated tension in the Congo, the UN has increased the number of peacekeepers in the country from 11,000 to nearly 17,000 and is promising to pressure President Kabila to follow through on his promises.

Geoff Hamilton


» The Economist: President Kabila Goes East

» UN: Congo Elections Possible in 2005 Only With Political Progress

» Turkish Press: Congo's Kabila to Make First Ever Trip to Troubled East of Country

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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