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Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK
Low turnout for peaceful Congo vote
Voter in Brazzaville
Voters were a rarity in polling stations on Sunday
The electoral commission in Congo Brazzaville says the second round of parliamentary elections passed off peacefully in most areas, although the turnout was low.


Why vote if it's always the same ones who come back?

Brazzaville resident
Despite tight security, correspondents say many voters in the capital, Brazzaville, were afraid to venture out after recent clashes between government troops and rebels opposed to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso.

Voting remained postponed in eight constituencies in the southern Pool region of Congo-Brazzaville, where fighting marred the first round earlier in the month and nearly 50,000 people are displaced.

The new 137-seat single chamber parliament will replace a transitional body under a constitution approved last January.

In the first round, only 51 of the seats were determined, with the party of President Sassou Nguesso winning 29 of them.

Opposition scepticism

The main opposition coalition said that the government had decided the results in advance.

"This risks ending up as a rubber-stamp parliament," said Andre Milongo of the Union for Democracy and the Republic.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso
President Sassou's party gained most seats won in the first round
One factor contributing to a low turnout was the more stringent requirements for voter idenitification.

In the first round, people only to show special voter cards to cast a ballot.

But on Sunday, national identity cards, driving licences or passports were required.

"For the second round, I haven't been to vote because I don't have a national identity card," said 32-year-old Brazzaville teacher Clementine Mabiala.

Other residents said that the poll was irrelevant, given the current security situation.

"My house was burned down by (rebels). Who is going to compensate me? Nobody, so why should I bother going to vote?" said 56-year-old retiree Norbert Mbani.

"Why vote if it's always the same ones who come back?" said Luc Mbila, 27.

Disqualified

After the first round, several candidates were disqualified for misdemeanours varying from assault to tampering with voting material.

They included the current minister of finance and President Sassou Nguesso's elder brother.

Once elected, Congo's new law makers will sit in the country's first democratically elected assembly in ten years, though critics say the president will retain most of his powers.

The former military ruler was himself elected earlier this year, winning almost 90% of the vote after opposition candidates either withdrew or were banned from entering the country.

See also:

27 May 02 | Africa
28 May 02 | Africa
16 May 02 | Africa
10 Apr 02 | Africa
02 Apr 02 | Africa
12 Mar 02 | Africa
10 Mar 02 | Africa
10 Mar 02 | Africa
22 Feb 02 | Africa
27 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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