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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Foreign observers hail Congo poll
Congolese voters
International observers have praised DR Congo's historic polls
International observers have praised the Democratic Republic of Congo's election historic on Sunday, despite a few problem areas.

But several hundred election officials have protested in Kinshasa, saying the electoral commission had not paid them.

The US-based Carter Center says voting was "generally peaceful" and orderly.

The UN mission in the Congo (Monuc) hailed the elections as satisfactory overall but criticised some logistical difficulties and isolated incidents.

Both observer bodies pledged sustained support of democracy for the Congolese.

Several hundred election officials said they had not been paid

Observers from the Carter Center, an independent body set up by former US President Jimmy Carter, warned the impact of last-minute changes to polling stations and lists could not yet be adequately assessed.

But they acknowleged that as the there had been no democratic election in 40 years, the most stringent international election standards could not be completely met.

Democratic development should rather be seen as "a long-term project", the Carter Center said.

Monuc and the Carter Center both deplored the attitude of certain media for behaving irresponsibly.

Monuc gave credit for the the successful holding of elections to the Congolese first, and to bodies such as the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), the Congolese National Police (PNC) and the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC).

Protests

Several hundred people hired temporarily by the CEI as election officials protested in Kinshasa on Wednesday, saying they had not received the pay they had been promised.

DR CONGO POLLS
Congolese voters show their voting cards to a police officer at a polling station in Kinshasa, DR Congo
32 presidential candidates
9,709 parliamentary candidates
25.6m voters
50,000 polling stations
260,000 electoral staff

"We worked non-stop for three days over the election, and we still haven't been paid," Ngalamulume Mutombo told our correspondent.

Protesters waved empty orange and white ballot boxes, on which they had written the slogan "we want our money".

They said they had originally been promised $70 each, and were later told they would receive $35 to be paid on Wednesday.

But the officials - most of them teachers and students who spent several nights sleeping in the mosquito-infested polling stations - said they had still not been paid.

CEI spokesman Dieudonne Mirimo told the BBC that all the election officials would be paid and they had already started. He said all the 24,000 officials in Kinshasa could not be paid the same day and said they were being manipulated by unamed politicians.

Fears

Some Congolese fear violent protests when the election results are announced.

While many polling stations in the cities have already posted results, the large size of the country makes it unlikely that the final tally will be available for several weeks.

Reflection of list of results outside a voting centre can be seen in a man's glasses
War-weary Congolese are waiting to find out who their president will be
It is still far from clear whether a second round will be required, or whether a candidate will gain the 50% of the votes needed to win outright.

Opposition newspapers are already predicting victory for former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, while pro-government newspapers are accusing Mr Bemba's supporters of publicising false results, reports the BBC News website's Joseph Winter in Kinshasa.

Opposition presidential candidate Azarias Ruberwa has said he will reject the result of Sunday's historic election, using all legal means necessary to annul the results.

The elections were aimed at ending a long civil war, with 32 candidates, including incumbent Joseph Kabila, contesting the presidency.

Over 9,000 candidates stood for parliament. Some 25m voters were protected by 17,000 UN peacekeepers, most of them stationed in the east.


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