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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/journal/2006...

by Serge-Henri Malet, special correspondent

The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Towards Power-sharing, the Congolese Way

Translated Tuesday 26 September 2006, by Patrick Bolland

The Democratic Republic of the Congo: The struggle for power in the National Assembly seems to be working in favour of the opposition party of Jean-Pierre Bemba

Joseph Kabila, the incumbent president, leading in the presidential ballot with his "Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction” (People’s Reconstruction Party) failed to win the first round of the presidential election, last July 30. Will he be forced to share power with the opposition? Despite having attained a good score (44.81% of the vote) against his vice-president, Jean-Pierre Bemba of the “Mouvement de libération du Congo” (MLC 20.03%), the dice are by no means clearly cast.

The simultaneous vote for the presidential and parliamentary elections generated an entirely new scenario. The incumbent president, with 40% of the seats in the National Assembly, can only count on 200 MPs, through alliances and formal agreements with other parties. This is far from obtaining an absolute majority in an Assembly of 500. His challenger, Jean-Pierre Bemba (64 MPs) can however count on the support of Antoine Gizenga (34 MPs) and also on support by some one hundred other MPs (in the smaller parties and from the independent candidates). At the least he could be a powerful leader of the opposition to Kabila.

According to the Constitution, the new National Assembly should start functioning at the end of this week. The MPs should start by electing the prime minister, who, logically, must be a member of the parliamentary majority. The Assembly has 30 days to designate the new prime minister – although this is renewable under the constitution.

If Bemba and his allies don’t win the second round of the presidential elections, he could still stand as prime minister. This was confirmed in barely veiled terms by François Mwamba, secretary general of the MLC (le “Mouvement de libération du Congo” - Memba’s party), during a visit to Paris: “If Vice-President Bemba wishes to become prime minister, he would be eligible, not just as a result of some internal arrangement, but simply by taking advantage of his alliances.”


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