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    World Bank Pledges $1 Billion to Democratic Republic of Congo

    The World Bank will grant the Democratic Republic of Congo up to $1.3 billion in assistance funds over the next three years. Franz Wild reports for VOA from Kinshasa, where the World Bank president has been meeting with Congolese officials.

    President Paul Wolfowitz says the World Bank has just amended its procedures to help countries in urgent need of assistance. He said the first grant under these procedures is going to Congo to help it restore its run-down capital, Kinshasa.

    At the end of a two-day visit, Wolfowitz said Congo needed aid quickly to enable it to stabilize its young democracy. "We need to move fast, much faster than we normally do. The people of this country have suffered too much. They need to see the results of peace. They need to see it in six months not in six years," he said.

    Congo is recovering from a 1998 to 2003 civil war, in which an estimated four million people died. This followed on the heels of over three decades under the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko who plundered state coffers.

    Investor interest in the mineral-rich country is returning, and Wolfowitz said it would be important to ensure corruption is tackled seriously. "We will apply the very highest standards that we are able to apply to ensure that procurement is honest and contracting is transparent," he said.

    Before his stop in the Congo, Wolfowitz visited Ghana and Burundi.

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