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Referendum to be delayed, official says

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KINSHASA, 30 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - A constitutional referendum for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will not be held on 27 October as planned because only about half of the voters have registered so far, the head of the country's electoral commission said on Thursday.

"We will do everything to organise it before the end of the year," Apollinaire Malumalu, the chairman of the Electoral Commission, said.

"We are going to publish a definitive date soon," he added

As of Thursday, Malumalu said, at least 13.6 million voters had been registered. He said once registration ended, 20 million to 28 million names would be listed.

The registration process has been completed in two of the country's provinces, Kinshasa and in Bas-Congo.

In all provinces registration should have lasted only three weeks but it has had to continue longer in some remote areas. Equipment to register voters has not arrived in some mountainous areas, particularly in the east of the country, he said.

Voters in the western provinces of Bandundu and Equateur only began registering this week.

The United Kingdom announced on Monday that it would give five million pounds (US $9 million) to help speed up the registration process. The UN Development Programme will administer the money.

"It should help to solve many logistic problems," Malumalu said.


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