DRC: Government proposes one-round election

DRC voting cartoonBy Nangayi Guyson – Kinshasa – The government of  Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday proposed that elections due in November be held in one round to cut costs and any flare in tensions as seen in other African countries.

Government spokesperson Lambert Mende told reporters that, “The two-round election like the one we had in 2006 is not in the interest of the Congolese people from an economic, political and security point of view”.

Holding the election in one round, which would require a partial revision of the constitution, would halve the costs to around $350m, he said.

It would also “avoid the country sinking into identity wars like in Kenya, Guinea and Ivory Coast”, he said.

The most recent presidential elections in those countries sparked deadly disputes about ethnicity and identity, with the Ivory Coast run-off vote in November entrenching a north-south divide as both candidates claim to be the winner.

The DR Congo’s Independent Election Commission has announced the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections for November 27.

Should no presidential candidate win more than 50%, a second round would be held in February 2012 alongside provincial assembly elections.

But one of the main opposition parties ,Movement for the Liberation of the Congo led by former deputy president Jean-Pierre Bemba quickly rejected the proposal, saying it could undermine the legitimacy of the elected president, spokesperson Thomas Luhaka told AFP.

“We also see in Africa countries that have remained at peace after an election of two rounds,” he said, charging the government wanted to avoid a second round because “they are afraid”.

DRC voting pictureBemba, on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity, lost against President Joseph Kabila in the run-off round of the last election in 2006.

The vote was the first free election in the DR Congo since its independence from Belgium in 1960.