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Kabila in pole position ahead of preliminary results

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The DRC's electoral commission (Ceni) in Kinshasa

The DRC’s electoral commission (Ceni) in Kinshasa

Incumbent president Joseph Kabila leads his main challenger Etienne Tshisekedi by 10 per cent in partial results announced late on Monday. Ahead of Tuesday’s official preliminary results there have been diplomatic efforts to avoid any possible violence. Some residents of Kinshasa have been leaving the city for the safety of Brazzaville.

Report – People leaving Kinshasa

Radio France Internationale

At 23:45 in Kinshasa the country’s electoral commission chief, Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, told journalists that the latest results represented 67 per cent of polling stations counted. Incumbent president Kabila has 5.8 million votes or 46 per cent. UDPS party leader Tshisekedi 4.5 million votes or 36 per cent.

Mulunda had been sure that full preliminary results would be released on 6 December. However, on Monday night he said that if all the results sheets do not arrive they might not be able to provide “more than a partial report”. This was the first indication that they could be a possible delay.

The latest set of results represents more of a geographical balance. Figures from Kinshasa, considered a Tshisekedi stronghold, had been slow to emerge. On Monday night 71 per cent of Kinshasa’s polling stations had been counted, an improvement of 44 per cent.

Diplomatic efforts were underway on Monday to try to avoid a repeat of the scattered pre-election violence across the country.

South African President Jacob Zuma had telephone conversations with Kabila, Tshisekedi and UNC party leader Vital Kamerhe. While in Kinshasa, ambassadors from Russia, Gabon and a representative from the United Nations met with Kabila on Monday morning and Tshisekedi in the afternoon.

Roger Meece, the head of the UN mission in the DRC (Monusco), told Radio Okapi that both Kabila and Tshisekedi had promised to respect the results.

Before Tuesday preliminary results the DRC’s security forces said people should not be worried. They have taken all necessary precautions.

“The police have taken all possible measures to secure the population,” Charles Bisengimana, the head of the Congolese police, told RFI. “We have deployed an effective Congolese police force – well equipped and well trained,” he added.

Despite these assurances some residents of Kinshasa have been leaving the capital. About one in 10 people at the port on Monday were taking one of the four boats a day to seek refuge in Brazzaville. A short journey across the Congo river to the Republic of Congo.

“To be secure we must leave with our family to Brazzaville,” said Raphael Bati, who works for Tigo, a major mobile phone network. Bati, like many expatriate workers in Kinshasa, is following the advice of his company. However, he’s not so sure the situation will deteriorate.

“Many people, they will protest but without guns – peacefully,” he added.

Business owners in Kinshasa are taking precautions ensuring that their stock is well-protected. Foreign embassies in the capital are advising their staff that they could be holed up in their respective compounds if there is an outbreak of violence.

Written by Daniel Finnan

6 December 2011 at 17:00

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