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Congolese with dual citizenship barred from voting

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GOMA, 23 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - Hundreds of Congolese who recently returned from Rwanda to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to register as voters have been disqualified because they hold dual citizenship, electoral officials said.

Up to 700 people came from Rwanda to register in Goma, the capital of North Kivu but only 214 Congolese who live in Rwanda could prove that they were real Congolese, Marie Shematsi Baeni, the head of North Kivu's Independent Electoral Commission, said on Thursday.

In May, the DRC's transitional parliament adopted a new constitution allowing citizens to hold only Congolese nationality.

Leaders have long disagreed about the identity of ethnic Tutsis who hail from the east of the country, on the border with Rwanda and Burundi.

The president of the Tutsi community in Goma, Dunia Bakarani, said the commission's decision was biased.

"We deplore this discrimination and will appeal to the government," he said.

Shematsi said voter registration was to have been completed on Sunday but remained open until Thursday, especially to process people coming from Rwanda.


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