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Congo’s Opposition Parties Holding Alliance Talks

Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and allied parties rally demanding more transparency in the November 28 election preparation process, Kinshasa, October 13, 2011.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a leading member of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) said his party is negotiating with other opposition parties to form an alliance. This, in preparation for the general elections scheduled for November 28.

Aime Boji, who is a member of parliament, said the talks also aim to put added pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to organize a credible vote.

“Discussions have been ongoing for a while now, not only to come together to defeat Joseph Kabila, but also to make sure that the elections are free and fair,” said Boji. “The second big issue that is being discussed is to see whether it is possible to have a united front behind one candidate, to maximize the chances of the opposition to defeat the current president.”

Boji said the opposition wants to ensure that the November vote will not be rigged.

Several opposition parties have expressed concern that the upcoming vote could be rigged in favor of incumbent President Joseph Kabila. They contend the electoral body has refused to address their apprehension, ahead of the election.

“We have serious concerns about the way the elections are being organized. The electoral commission lacks transparency,” said Boji. “There are a number of key issues especially to do with the voter’s registration [and] the access to the central server [among others], so, there a number of concerns by the opposition, which have not received satisfactory answers from the electoral commission.”

The commission dismisses the accusations as unfounded.

Political analysts say the lack of unity among opposition groups could allow incumbent President Kabila to win re-election. There are 10 other presidential contenders vying to challenge Mr. Kabila in the November vote.

But the two main contestants include long-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) and UNC’s Vital Kamerhe.

Boji expressed optimism about the prospects of the ongoing negotiations.

“The question now is whether Mr. Kamerhe and Mr. Tshisekedi can come to an agreement and form an alliance, so that only one candidate can go against Joseph Kabila.”

Meanwhile, CENI says about 18,000 candidates have officially filed to contest the 500-member seat parliament.