Leaked document warns of DRCongo vote-fixing risk: report

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Details emerged Saturday of a report warning of a risk of vote-fixing in next month's elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a day after violence marred the start of campaigning.

Britain's Independent newspaper said Belgian company Zetes, contracted by the government to issue biometric voter cards, had submitted a secret report to the authorities in Kinshasa setting out the dangers.

The report, a copy of which had been obtained by the newspaper, pointed out what it called serious flaws in the electoral roll, including hundreds of thousands of ghost voters.

The company warned that duplicates -- voters registered twice -- could potentially skew the election in favour of President Joseph Kabila, who is running for re-election, the paper reported.

There was a significant number of duplicates in Bandundu, Equateur and Province Orientale provinces -- but not in Kinshasa province, a stronghold of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the report said.

The report said the number of duplicates ran into the hundreds of thousands, the Independent reported.

Saturday's report came a day after violence marred the start of the election campaign for the presidential and legislative elections set for November 28.

One person was shot dead and another three wounded after police opened fire on an election rally in Mbuji-Mayi, the provincial capital of Kasai Oriental, in the centre of the country, a UN spokesman told AFP.

The shooting happened at a rally of the opposition Parti Travailliste (Labour Party), which is led by Tshisekedi.

"One person died at the scene and three others are in hospital," Manodje Mounoubai of MONUSCO, the UN stabilisation mission in DRCongo, told AFP.

"MONUSCO stresses that the freedom of assembly and expression, as well as political debate, are important and must be protected during campaigning," said a statement issued later by MONUSCO chief Roger Meece.

The credibility of the elections was at stake, he added, calling for a government investigation into the killings.

Violence has already marred the build-up to the legislative and presidential vote.

On Friday, as campaigning got underway, an alliance of 73 Congolese and international rights groups ahead of the November vote appealed for restraint.

Their open letter, sent to all presidential contenders, accused some candidates of having created a "climate of fear" by inciting violence against their opponents.

The rights groups, which included the New York-based Human Rights Watch, appealed for an end to "hate speech" ahead of the vote which risked provoking a violent election campaign.

Aides to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the country since the assassination of his father Laurent in 2001, say he will tour all 11 of the provinces making up the vast country, which is four times the size of France.

Tshisekedi, his main foe, will early next week start his campaign in the troubled east of the country, still prone to violence after wars that devastated the DR Congo between 1996 and 2003.

There are 11 candidates for the presidency and nearly 19,000 candidates are in the running for the 500 parliamentary seats. There are 32 million people eligible to vote.

© 2011 AFP

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