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US Senators Promote Improved US-Congo Legislation

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VOA News - May 31, 2006

A bipartisan group of US senators will promote legislation outlining US policy toward the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bill is spearheaded by Illinois democrats Barack Obama and Dick Durbin and republicans Sam Brownback of Kansas and Michael DeWine of Ohio. It promotes humanitarian relief, democracy, and clear management of natural resources as a means to encourage peace, stability, and free and fair elections next month.

Deputy Director of Advocacy for the International Rescue Committee, Shannon Meehan told Voice of America the legislation marks a shift in direction, made necessary by an ongoing war that has cost more lives than any other conflict since World War II.

"This bill establishes core principles of U.S. policy to continue to help save lives and rebuild this war-torn country. One of the first things it calls for is to reinvigorate the political action needed to secure the D.R.C. on a path to representative democracy and stability."

Ms. Meehan says the United States has been very supportive of Congo's humanitarian needs over time. She notes that Kinshasa recognizes the importance of the relationship and seeks to continue it.

"I think the Congolese see the United States as important to their future. The United States State Department has played a very significant role in the regional talks that are called the Tripartite Plus, with Rwanda, the Congo, Burundi, and Uganda. And we think that the last six months of advocacy and the language of this bill have helped solidify that to continue after this June. It was originally slated to end, and the U.S. sees that their influence in keeping those regional relationships on a path to development, as Burundi has moved to democracy, Rwanda is on?.representational democracy in Uganda, that the region can move forward together, that Congo is not in isolation and the U.S. sees that that's a very important role to play."


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