DRC: Kabila, Bemba pledge to keep the peace after poll
Presidential candidates Jean-Pierre Bemba and Joseph Kabila (right)
KINSHASA, 30 October 2006 (IRIN) - The Democratic Republic of Congo's incumbent President Joseph Kabila and his challenger in Sunday's presidential election run-off, Jean-Pierre Bemba, have pledged to respect the results and promised that whoever loses the poll would not resort to violence.
Representatives of both men signed a post-election declaration of intention document on Sunday, in which they promised that the loser would renounce force. They pledged that any poll disputes would be resolved legally, as required under the election law.
The document requires that, in the event of unrest, both candidates would publicly appeal to their supporters to keep the peace.
The agreement also stipulates that the winner ensure the personal safety of the loser and that his property and financial assets be respected in line with national and international norms. The loser’s bodyguards would also be accorded respect, according to the document.
The losing candidate would support in full the establishment of institutions and engage in politics without resorting to acts of direct or indirect violence, it says. He will be guaranteed the freedom of movement to visit all part of the country, it added.
Observers welcomed the accord, but expressed some doubts over its implementation.
"Congo is the winner here because today we can say that the results of the second round are not going to help create the scope for further fighting like that which occurred during the first round," Jean-Marie Labila, a political analyst at the University of Kinshasa and adviser to the Ministry of International Cooperation, said.
Three days of heavy fighting between Kabila's and Bemba's security guards after the announcement of the provisional results of the first round of the presidential elections left at least 23 people dead in Kinshasa. The violence only ended with the intervention of the United Nations Mission in Congo, the European Union force and African Union envoys.
Other analysts said peace would depend on the sincerity of both candidates.
"The accord was signed under international pressure, but if the margin is wide, the winner will assume a certain arrogance and can isolate the loser," said Philippe Biyoya, professor of political science at the Protestant University of Congo.