U.S. calls on Congo to hold elections quickly - 4 April, 2006 - News

Congolese politicians should accept the results of long-awaited elections and prevent postelection turmoil, a senior U.S. diplomat visiting Congo said Monday.

Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, spoke a day after Congo's leading opposition party threatened to block Congo's first democratic elections in 40 years.

Organizing the elections has been difficult enough in this vast, mineral-rich but ravaged nation, still gripped in many areas by violence and disorder. The chaos could persist if candidates, who include former rebel chiefs, warlords and officials accused of corruption, protest election results.

"The postelection period is extremely important, there should not be spoilers," Frazer said at a news conference in Congo's capital, Kinshasa. "If losers don't accept results of the election, that could be a problem."

The elections could be a watershed moment for a nation that has known little but rebellion, coups and dictatorship since independence from brutal Belgian colonial rule in 1960. Congo's electoral commission has registered 72 presidential candidates and some 4,000 candidates for seats in state and national parliaments.

But Etienne Tshisekedi, a veteran opposition leader and president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, did not sign up to run by a Sunday deadline despite a 10-day extension for candidates, because "basic conditions such as the transparency of elections have not yet been met," party spokesman Jean-Baptiste Bomanza said. Bomanza has charged previously that a nationwide constitutional referendum in December was rigged and that his party has been unfairly excluded from the election process, reports the AP.


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