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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 November 2006, 23:48 GMT
DR Congo gets partial poll result
UN soldier guards bags of ballot papers in DR Congo
UN peacekeepers provided logistical support for the vote
Partial results have been issued from last week's run-off to the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential polls, in an effort to quell rumours.

A count of 5% of the ballots showed President Joseph Kabila had 68.5% of the vote, compared to his rival, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who polled 31.5%.

However, the results are mostly from the east, seen as pro-Kabila, while Mr Bemba is popular in the west.

Election officials said it was far too soon to predict any final outcome.

A previous round of voting saw clashes between armed supporters of the two front-runners when results came out.

'False results'

Following the second round of voting last week, supporters of Mr Kabila and Mr Bemba circulated text messages and e-mails claiming victory for their candidate.

The head of DR Congo's election commission had earlier this week said the publication of unofficial results could provoke violence.

President Joseph Kabila and his nearest rival Jean-Pierre Bemba
Joseph Kabila (l) is leading Jean-Pierre Bemba (r)
Apollinaire Malu Malu said he was concerned about "false and premature statements on the results" which could increase tension.

According to a western diplomat quoted by the Reuters news agency, the election commission had "come under pressure to release official figures as this reduces the market for rumour and false results".

"This is a good move," the diplomat said.

The initial results released this week confirmed Mr Kabila remained popular in the east of the country, where voters associate his leadership with stability.

Mr Bemba, however, had far greater support in the west of the country.

Full results are not likely to be revealed until 19 November and a formal winner will be announced before the end of the month.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman said the results released so far also reveal a higher turnout in the east than the west.

However, he warns that results in Kinshasa and the centre of the country will be crucial in determinng any winner.

International observers generally praised the vote as being well-run, despite some disruptions in the north-east of the country.

The election - DR Congo's first democratic one in more than 40 years - was intended to close the door on decades of dictatorship and conflict.

Counting the votes is a time-consuming process as all the ballot papers must be transported from sometimes remote locations to compilation centres.

DR Congo is two-thirds the size of western Europe and has just 300 miles of paved roads.

The country's rich reserves of minerals such as gold, diamonds and coltan - used in mobile phones - have attracted a series of armed groups, both Congolese and foreign, intent on looting.


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