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Congo Passes Electoral Law, Plans June Elections


The Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission Wednesday proposed June for the country's presidential and legislative elections. The proposal follows on the heels of parliament's enactment of an electoral law that sets the rules for Congo's first democratic polls in 40 years.

Congo's parliament Tuesday approved the electoral law that will govern how the elections will be organized.

The lack of an electoral law had blocked Congo's already slow progress towards holding elections and drawing a line under decades of dictatorship, chaos and, more recently, a war that has killed some four million people.

Following the enactment of the law, Congo's electoral commission proposed June 18 as the date for holding presidential and parliamentary elections.

The peace deals that ended Congo's 1998-2003 war originally called for the polls to be held by mid-2005. But squabbling within the transitional government, fighting in the east, and the logistical challenges of organizing an election have caused repeated delays and sparked further unrest.

Diplomats and the U.N. mission that is working to maintain a fragile peace in Congo, welcomed the adoption of the law, saying it was another step in the right direction.

Political observers here say they hope the elections will diminish the influential role of the military and lead to a long-awaited army reform.