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Kabila Rival Wins DRC Senate Seat


The losing candidate in the Democratic Republic of Congo's historic October presidential runoff election has won a seat in the country's new senate. Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former rebel leader who became vice president during a three-year transitional period, has vowed to use his seat in the senate to lead the political opposition. Joe Bavier has more for VOA from Kinshasa.

The members of the senate were chosen Friday by the members of the Democratic Republic of Congo's 11 provincial assemblies. More than 1,100 candidates were running for a place in the new 108-seat senate.

Last year, Congo held its first democratic elections in more than four decades, choosing members to a national assembly and giving President Joseph Kabila his first elected mandate.

When the provisional results of the race for the senate seat in the capital were announced, there was little surprise that Jean-Pierre Bemba had won the seat in the upper house of DRC's parliament. Mr. Kabila defeated Bemba in the October runoff election.

During the election campaign, fighting twice broke out between forces loyal to ex-rebel leader Bemba and Mr. Kabila's presidential guard. Dozens were killed in the clashes, which raised fears of a return to the kind of violence that left some four million dead during years of fighting in the Congo that ended in 2003.

Eve Masudi, a member of Bemba's political party the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, also won a senate seat Friday.

The election, she says, is the result of the determination of all Congolese who want Congo to get back on the rails and be counted among the world's civilized countries.

Bemba initially rejected President Kabila's victory, claiming there had been widespread fraud. However, he eventually accepted the result and vowed to lead the political opposition against the president.

There were no reports of problems during Friday's vote, said election commission spokesman Delion Kimbulungu. He said official nationwide provisional results are due to be announced Saturday.

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