Tension about Congo election plans

Brazzaville - Congo has begun updating electoral lists ahead of elections in June and July, despite fierce criticism from opposition parties who want a completely new census.

Electoral lists dating from the 2002 elections went up around the capital and in the main cities around the country to allow people to check their name is there.

But opposition politicians say the 2002 lists are not reliable, alleging they have been fraudulently weighted in favour of President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

By Sunday, several lists had been ripped down in districts around the capital.

Congo, a country of about 3,7 million people last had a parliamentary poll in 2002. Most opposition candidates either pulled out or were excluded and the poll was marred by allegations of fraud by Sassou Nguesso's supporters.

Meanwhile, a new coalition of seven pro-Sassou Nguesso parties, the National Democratic Forces (FDN), was showing signs of strains after its founding congress on Friday and Saturday.

Gabriel Bokilo, leader of the Union for National Redressment (URN) and current president of the assembly's economics committee, announced his party was pulling out after he was not given the FDN presidency.

That went to former health minister Leon Alfred Opimba, still an assembly deputy.

On June 24, voters in the oil-rich western neighbour of the vast Democratic Republic of Congo will be called to the polls to elect members of the 137-seat National Assembly. The second, run-off round of the election will take place on July 22.

The current assembly is dominated by Sassou Nguesso's Congolese Congolese Labour Party (PCT) and its allies. - Sapa-AFP


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