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Congo Vote Slow as Fraud Fears Persist

Parliamentary elections in the Republic of Congo are proceeding in most of the country. As Franz Wild reports for VOA from Brazzaville, many Congolese say they have no voting cards and cannot find their voting office.

Most voting centers across Congo opened with a delay, as officials were waiting for materials to arrive. In some areas of the capital, Brazzaville, it took untill long after noon.

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who looks to be consolidating his domination over the national assembly, arrived with his wife and daughter to vote at midday in Ouenze, a Brazzaville district.

He told reporters the ballot was free and fair.

He said, he thinks the fact that there are more than a1,000 candidates for 137 seats in the assembly is a good sign.

With all regular traffic barred, kids played soccer on the streets, as small groups of people made their way to voting centers.

Many were disappointed, as they realized their names were not on the list or had to trek across the city to get to their station, without any transport allowed.

Johnson Igo is one of these.

He says, the Congolese who want to vote today cannot find their polling stations, and if they do, he says, they cannot find their name on the list.

Others joined the boycott called by about 40 opposition parties, but the main opposition parties have decided to compete.

Anyone who does not receive an absolute majority in the first round, faces a July 22 run-off.

Mr. Sassou-Nguesso, who is in power the second time after a 1997 coup, is up for election in 2009.