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Voters give new constitution overwhelming support

KINSHASA, 12 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - An overwhelming number of voters have approved a new constitution put to a referendum in December 2005, which is expected to lead to general elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, official results of the poll show.

The results, released on Wednesday by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), show that 84.31 percent voted for the new constitution and 15.69 percent against.

Commission Chairman Apolinnaire Malumalu said the results of the referendum of 18 and 19 December 2005 would have to be endorsed by the Supreme Court before they become definitive. He said 61.97 percent of the 25 million registered voters - that is 15.5 million voters - cast ballots; 38.3 percent abstained.

The results reflect, in part, a firm rejection of an appeal by veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi, for a boycott of the process. However, after provisional figures showed strong voter approval for the document, Tshisekedi announced an end to his boycott call.

Although largely free and fair, Malumalu said there had been irregularities with documentation in some voting stations. These included the lack of minutes, the lack of signatures, deletions and other alterations, as well as the use of unauthorised ballot boxes.

"The IEC has annulled all these results concerned," he said.

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