FYI, this item from the BBC discusses the presidential election in the
DR Congo with reference to two dominant lingua francas in the country,
Lingala and Swahili. Text below; there are photos and a small map on
the article's webpage. (Link seen on H-Swahili)...  DZO

Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK 
DR Congo's language divide
By Mark Doyle 
BBC News, DR Congo 

One important aspect of the Democratic Republic of Congo's post-war
election campaign which reaches its conclusion on Sunday is that the
country has been broadly split politically into language areas. 

In the first round of voting, when there were over 30 candidates,
there was a strong tendency for the incumbent President Joseph Kabila
to do well in the east, where the lingua franca is Swahili. 

His main rival in the run-off presidential contest, Jean-Pierre Bemba,
did well in the west, where most people speak Lingala. 

The United Nations mission has called on the two rivals to make public
appeals for calm among their supporters but tensions remain high
because the two belligerents during the war both still have loyal
armed forces. 

The voting division is partly an ethnic split, but not entirely. 


Swahili is spoken across many countries in east and southern Africa
and in DR Congo, it is spoken by many different tribes. 

Mr Kabila may have been popular in the east across tribal boundaries
because this is the part of the country which suffered most in the war
and he has successfully portrayed himself as the man who invited UN
troops in to help end the conflict. 

Mr Bemba, on the other hand, is popular in the capital, Kinshasa and
in his nearby home state of Equator. 

Both are places where the vast majority speak Lingala. 


The areas around the capital are now the key battleground for votes. 

Mr Kabila won more votes overall than Mr Bemba in the first round of
the elections, but did badly in Kinshasa. 

So, one of Mr Bemba's tactics is to aim for a higher turnout of voters
in the densely populated Lingala-speaking areas around Kinshasa. 

Mr Kabila, on the other hand, will try to hang on to his
Swahili-speaking vote and at the same time, try to reach out to
Lingala-speaking politicians in the hope that they can 

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