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Voter registration extended in Orientale, Bas-Congo provinces

GOMA, 15 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Voter registration was extended for an additional week on Sunday in the Democratic Republic of Congo provinces of Orientale and Bas-Congo due to transport and security difficulties, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Appollinaire Malu Malu, said.

"We are now obliged to extend because we had difficulties transporting registrations materials in certain centres of those two provinces," Malu Malu said in Kinshasa, the nation's capital.

Registration started in these provinces on 24 July and is now due to end on 21 August.

In Orientale Province, especially in its district of Ituri, insecurity has closed off some areas to electoral commission officials. The commission's supervisor in Ituri, Jhon Ukunya, said of the 514 voter registration centres in Ituri, 129 were operational. Most of these are in Bunia town, and in the territories of Mahagi and Aru which are roughly 160 km and 240 km north of Bunia.

Ukunya also said it would be equally difficult to register voters in Boga, 120 km south Bunia, also due to insecurity.

"Militiamen have refused to disarm, consequently the population has fled to Uganda," Ukunya said

Only 475,600 voters have registered in Orientale Province, 438,777 in Bas-Congo ahead of the July 2006 general election.

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