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September 12th, 2004
Democracy in the Rough
Map: Elections 2006: Places, Politics and Players: North Kivu

Joseph Kabila: 1,438,238 – 77.71%
Jean-Pierre Bemba: 14,267 – 0.77%

Politics: Bordered by Uganda and Rwanda, the far eastern province of North Kivu has been the chosen refuge and battleground of groups fighting, or fleeing, the governments of both. Joseph Kabila’s efforts to bring peace to the war-weary region and its capital, Goma, clearly influenced the vote, with results 100 to 1 in his favor. Clashes of rebel groups and the army continue as the government tries to take back control of the region from ethnic militias, renegade army elements, and foreign groups from Rwanda and Uganda. While there was some interference in the election, for the most part these groups allowed elections to proceed peacefully, helped some by the significant presence of U.N. troops.

Natural Resources: The mineral of particular interest in this small province is coltan, a substance used in cell phones and microchips. The rise in prices for coltan have made it an attractive target of neighboring Rwanda, with few natural resources of its own. Not only do rebel groups seize the coltan, they often abuse local populations as well, some times enlisting them in the coltan extraction. The population is also subject to violence when battles between warring factions fighting over the resources erupt in mining towns.

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