Belgium praises 'disciplined' Congo elections

31st July 2006, Comments 0 comments

31 July 2006, BRUSSELS — The Belgian government has welcomed the peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first free elections to be held in the nation's former colony in four decades.

31 July 2006

BRUSSELS — The Belgian government has welcomed the peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first free elections to be held in the nation's former colony in four decades. 

Belgium also praised the good organisation of the presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday.  

An international observer described the poll as an "impressive, disciplined display from the Congolese voters".

Millions of Congolese voters were already lining up at 6am on Sunday to place their vote. Polling booths closed at 5pm.

The head of the independent electoral commission, Apollinaire Malu Malu, was cautiously satisfied by the poll, but was also critical of "several individual incidents" in which some voters were offered money near a polling station.

In Mbuji-Mayi, supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi and the party UDPS — which were boycotting the poll — set a truck with election material ablaze, forcing the closure of several polling booths in the diamond city. Stone throwing was also used to discourage voters.

In West-Kasai, at least six polling stations were torched.

But in general, the elections passed off peacefully and in a well organised and disciplined manner.

The elections were supervised by the UN, which sent more than 17,000 troops to the Congo. That force was backed by a 1,000-member EU deployment.

There were also more than 1,200 international election observers in the country, 30 of whom were Belgian MPs.

If none of the more than 30 presidential candidates winsa complete majority, a second round of voting will be necessary. Current president Joseph Kabila is favoured to win.

Belgium said the elections are very encouraging for the future provided that the constructive approach which characterised the preparation and staging of the elections process are retained.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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