Kabila maintains lead as more results released

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s president maintained a sizable lead on Monday over the former rebel leader challenging his seat in a historic runoff election, according to the latest results released by the electoral commission.

The tally of about 1,8-million ballots out of 25-million registered voters had President Joseph Kabila well ahead with 70% of the vote, compared with 30% for Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The results, posted on the electoral commission’s website, included polling stations from across the country.

Electoral officials have said they will announce overall results from the runoff by November 19, and perhaps earlier.

The October 29 vote was the culmination of a four-year transition to democratic rule after a 1998-2002 war and decades of dictatorship.

Many Congolese had never voted before a constitutional referendum in December that set the stage for elections. The winner will become the country’s first democratically elected president since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The volatile Central African country has been tense since fighting broke out in the capital in August between forces loyal to both candidates as first-round results were announced. - Sapa-AP

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