Monday, October 16, 2006

The Second Round Has Begun: Will it Usher in More War or a Path to Democratic Rule?

The second round of the presidential elections began on Saturday October 15 and will culminate in a nationwide vote on Sunday, October 29, 2006. Although, it appears that progress is being made and elections are being held, there is an eerie air of uncertainty surrounding the second round of voting. The international community led by the Committee to Accompany the Transition (CIAT in French) repeatedly calls for the acceptance of the final results, it appears that Bemba and Kabila are preparing more for war than an election campaign.

By almost all accounts, arms continue to flow into Kinshasa, the nation’s capital. Kabila has made changes in his cabinet which are tantamount to the further militarization of his government. Neither Bemba nor Kabila has integrated their security forces into the national army. Kabila is estimated to have approximately 15,000 presidential guards and Bemba approximately 5,000 security forces.

The campaign is already off to a rocky start. Supporters of both candidates clashed at Mbandaka, capital of the province of Equateur and television stations have been attacked in both Kinshasa and Katanga province.

There is tremendous cause for concern. Our sources have indicated that neither Kabila nor Bemba is prepared to concede to the other in spite of the results.


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