Congo elections 'free and fair', says German MEP

31st July 2006, Comments 0 comments

31 July 2006, KINSHASA, CONGO - The Democratic Republic of Congo's first free elections in more than 40 years were "free and fair", according to a German politician.

31 July 2006

KINSHASA, CONGO - The Democratic Republic of Congo's first free elections in more than 40 years were "free and fair", according to a German politician.

"Voter turnout was very high," said Apollinaire Malu Malu, the head of the election commission Monday in Kinshasa without giving an estimate.

Voter turnout in some towns was between 60 and 85 per cent Sunday, according to polls by Radio Okapi.

Voting continued Monday in Kasai province after opposition supporters had burnt seven polling stations to the ground and looted two trucks with election material. Replacment ballot sheets had to be flown to more than 200 polling stations.

United Nations and international diplomats said that overall the elections had passed off surprisingly peacfully.

Ulrich Stockmann, a German politician and member of the European Parliament with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said the elections were "free and fair."

An observer with the Electoral Institute of South Africa (EISA) said, "No election is perfect," adding, "In view of 50,000 polling stations, the election was exceptionally well organised."

Preliminary final results are expected to be announced on August 20. Regional elections and a probable second ballot for the presidency are planned for October 29, the electoral commission said.

More than 25 million voters were eligible to elect a new president and parliament. Incumbent Joseph Kabila and Vice President Jean- Pierre Bemba were considered the favourites for the presidency.

The Congolese elections were the most expensive ever supported by the United Nations, costing the international community as much as 400 million dollars so far.

DPA

Subject: German news

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