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Congo Election Observers Warn of Intimidation of Candidates


The Carter Center says Congo's government is intimidating some election candidates. But the U.S.-based election observer team said in a statement that other candidates are embellishing some technical issues, rather than taking part in campaigning.

With election campaigning in the Democratic Republic of Congo well into its second week, an international electoral observer team issued some stark warnings.

The Carter Center, which was created by former president Jimmy Carter, said that some government actors have deliberately attempted to intimidate and obstruct certain candidates from campaigning.

These actions constituted a serious abuse of the powers of government, would stir up tensions between parties, and threaten the fairness of the electoral process, the observers said.

The Carter Center listed unjustified arrests and intimidation of businesses making services available to candidates among their complaints.

Congo's July 30 elections are meant to close a decade of war and chaos during which the last conflict lasted from 1998 until 2003 and killed four million people, mostly from hunger and disease.

They should be the first free elections in over 40 years and have the backing of the international community, but continued fighting in the east and a deeply divided and cluttered political culture in Kinshasa have complicated the process.

Police broke up demonstrations called Tuesday by presidential and parliamentary candidates complaining about irregularities in the electoral process. But in its statement, the Carter Center criticized some candidates for exaggerating marginal issues, such as the excess ballot papers, rather than focusing on campaigning.

Other warnings in the observers' report included the unequal access to the media, the overdue payment of electoral workers and the vandalism of some candidate's campaigning material.