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Army preparing 10 brigades ahead of general elections

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KINSHASA, 26 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - At least 10 brigades of the new Congolese army are being prepared to help with the country's reunification process, especially during elections planned for later this year, the army's chief of general staff, Lt-Gen Kisempia Kisungilanga, told IRIN on Monday.

"Those being trained will participate in peacekeeping operations during the electoral process," he said.

The brigades are being trained with the help of Belgium, France and South Africa. Kisempia's communication adviser, Jean-Willy Mutombo, a civilian, said the brigades would be trained in human rights and other methods of securing locations during the elections.

On 15 April, the country's Independent Electoral Commission announced that voter registration would begin in early June, making it likely that the elections would not take place as scheduled.

"The army is ready to provide security whether elections are held on 30 June or after five months or in the next one year," Kisempia said.

He added that the army had the responsibility of maintaining peace, security, protecting and upholding the law to ensure adherence to the constitution.

To help restore peace nationwide and stem the illegal circulation of firearms, he said, the army would help recover guns from former combatants.

A transitional government was installed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 2003 following five years of war, in which armies of several African nations entered the country, to support government troops and rebel groups.


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