In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a historic vote on the constitution takes place this weekend. About 24 million Congolese have registered for Sunday's poll. A ?yes? vote will mark the end of a three-year transitional period and usher in national elections before June 30 next year. On Sunday, voters will cast their ballots at nearly 40,000 polling stations throughout the country.

DRC specialist Henri Boshoff of the South African Institute For Security Studies told Voice of America reporter Ashenafi Abedje Congolese authorities face a few challenges in ensuring a successful vote.  These include the logistics of accommodating 24 million voters, instability in the eastern part of the country, the disqualification of soldiers to vote in the referendum and the uncertainty over the turnout on Sunday.

Mr. Boshoff says the draft constitution calls for a unitary state with substantial degrees of decentralization. He says it sets up a system in which the president is elected by universal suffrage and by an absolute majority. Equally important, he says, the constitution provides for a balance of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The South African analyst expresses his hope for a ?yes? vote in Sunday?s referendum. A ?no? vote, he cautions, will put the transitional process back for a long time.