Historic Vote in Congo Is Peaceful: Turnout Appears Massive as Presidential Hopefuls Vie in Runoff (Stephanie McCrummen, 10/30/06, Washington Post)
Voting was largely peaceful, despite analysts’ predictions that it would not be, as the largest U.N. peacekeeping force in the world patrolled dirt roads and swarms of international and local observers looked on. […]
The two presidential contenders are men accustomed to leading by force.
President Joseph Kabila’s father, Laurent Kabila, toppled the longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in a 1997 coup; Jean-Pierre Bemba is a businessman-turned-rebel leader-turned-vice president in Kabila’s transitional government. Fighting among their supporters killed at least 14 in the wake of the July balloting, and small skirmishes have erupted here and there across the country in recent days.
But on Friday, under pressure from the United Nations and border countries such as Rwanda and Uganda that have at various points backed both men, Kabila and Bemba pledged to accept the election results.
Meanwhile, holed up in a mansion in the rolling green mountains near Goma, Laurent Nkunda, a rebel leader charged with war crimes, also appears to be vying for legitimacy. He had ordered his soldiers not to interfere in the voting and, in recent months, had created his own political party, the National Congress for the People’s Defense. With his power waning, observers say it remains unclear whether he will be arrested or given a position in government.