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Congo Ruling Party Takes Lead in Elections

Republic of Congo's President party has won nearly all the seats decided in the heavily criticized first round of last Sunday's parliamentary elections. As Franz Wild reports for VOA from Kinshasa opposition groups want the poll annulled.

Only two out of 46 seats decided in the June 24 first round went to the opposition.

The poll came under fire from opposition parties, many of which boycotted the vote. They said the vote was not free and fair as many citizens were not on the electoral roll or had no voting cards and were unable to vote. Many voting offices opened late or not at all.

Voting did not take place in 16 constituencies. They will catch up Friday.

The government last week fired the election's director, when it accepted flaws, but denied fraud. There will be no rerun as had been called for.

About two million voters were to elect members of a 137-member national assembly, dominated by President Sassou-Nguesso's Congolese Labor Party and its allies.

Former President Pascal Lissouba's Pan-African Union for a Social Democracy is the only opposition party assured to be in parliament.

In a 1997 coup, Mr. Sassou-Nguesso ousted Mr. Lissouba, who had beat him in elections five years earlier, triggering two years of civil war that left 10,000 dead and 800,000 displaced.

Congo's second round run-off is set for July 22.