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Parliament adopts electoral law, poll schedule

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KINSHASA, 22 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - Parliament has adopted a bill giving the Independent Electoral Commission 110 days to organise national democratic elections as soon as Congo's President Joseph Kabila signs the document into law, the commission's second vice-president, Norbert Bansegezi Kantintima, said on Wednesday.

"We are reaching the final phase of organising the elections," Bansegezi said in Kinshasa, the nation's capital.

The commission presented the electoral timetable to parliament saying it needed the time to call the elections and to hold the first in the series of the polls. The country's transitional constitution requires that the polls be held before 30 June.

At least 25 million voters have registered to vote nationwide. However, the main opposition party, the Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS), has called for the reopening of the voter register now that it has retracted its decision to boycott the polls.

Party leader Etienne Tshisekedi had initially called on his supporters to boycott the elections, saying his party was fundamentally opposed to constitution, which amounted to selling the country to foreigners. This appeared to be a reference to a clause in the document granting citizenship to people who settled in the country before independence in 1960.

However, with the massive voter support in a 18 December 2005 referendum for the new constitution, Tshisekedi ended his boycott.


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