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Congo Electoral Commission Sets Presidential Election Date

April 30 (Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo will hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Nov. 28, said Pastor Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, head of the Central African country’s electoral commission.

Campaigning for Congo’s second presidential vote after nearly a decade of war ended in 2003 will begin on Oct. 28, Mulunda told reporters today in Kinshasa, the capital. Provisional results will be announced on Dec. 6, he said.

President Joseph Kabila will seek re-election after winning a runoff vote in 2006 against former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is now on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes allegedly committed in neighboring Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

With Bemba sidelined, Kabila’s main opposition will probably be Etienne Tshisekedi, head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party. Vital Kamerhe, the architect of Kabila’s first campaign and former president of the National Assembly, may also run.

The elections will take place in one round after the government changed the constitution in January, allowing a candidate to win with a simple majority.

Between the first and second round of the 2006 elections, more than 20 people were killed when supporters of Bemba and Kabila clashed in the streets of Kinshasa. Hundreds more died in the city after the vote when fighting between the two sides resumed in 2007.

Continuing Conflict

Armed conflicts and extreme poverty continue to plague the mineral-rich country, which is struggling to overcome four decades of dictatorship and war.

“The security conditions in 2005 and 2006 were worse than the security issues we are facing now,” said Roger Meece, head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo.

The UN is running programs to bolster Congo’s police force before the elections, Meece said in an interview in Kinshasa. UN peacekeepers, who number more than 19,100, will not have a formal security role related to the elections, he said.

“I’ve reassured the president of the electoral commission of the willingness and commitment of the United Nations to fulfil our role providing logistical support and technical assistance,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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