Congo's Kabila leads election in early results

December 3, 2011 - 2:25 PM

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's president, seeking a second term in a nation reeling from poverty and pummeled by war, was leading Saturday with 50.3 percent in early results of an election marred by technical problems and accusations of favoritism.

The head of the election commission Daniel Ngoy Mulunda released province by province tallies he said amounted to 33 percent of all voting bureaus.

An Associated Press compilation of the individual results showed that President Joseph Kabila was ahead with 3.27 million of the 6.48 million votes counted so far.

Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi was trailing with 2.23 million votes, or 34.4 percent — but claimed the ruling party-dominated election commission was not releasing results from opposition strongholds.

Tshisekedi's supporters on Saturday attacked the car of a team of foreign correspondents, accusing the international community of propping up Kabila in order to help him win re-election.

The vote has suffered from massive technical glitches, including the fact that planes carrying ballots last week were not able to leave on time due to a lightning storm.

Monday's vote had to be extended for three days in order to give porters carrying ballots on their heads, on bicycles, in canoes, in wheelbarrows and in all-terrain vehicles time to reach the distant corners of this gigantic nation at the heart of Africa.

The release of results was causing further friction. The opposition charged that the ruling party, which has the majority of seats on the election commission, was purposely releasing results only from pro-Kabila areas.

The region of the country least represented in the results released Saturday is Kinshasa, the capital, an opposition stronghold that Kabila lost in the 2006 election.

The results released from Kinshasa represent only 3.33 percent of the capital's precincts, said Mulunda. Tshisekedi had so far received roughly twice as many votes here than Kabila, nearly 43,000 compared to the 23,000 cast for the incumbent.

In a statement, the opposition leader's party said, "It is shocking that polling data would be released, clearly selected to show a favorable bias towards Kabila."

The election is only Congo's second democratic vote in its 51-year history, and the first to be organized by the government instead of by the international community.

Poll workers on Friday at one of the four compilation centers in Kinshasa complained of the fact that they had not been given anything to eat or drink. The head of the precinct was asleep in his chair, his head rolled back.

When election commission workers attempted to rouse him to ask him a question, he opened his eyes and then promptly fell asleep again.