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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 December, 2004, 07:58 GMT
DR Congo poll gets European aid
A child walks in front of looted shops in Kanyabayonga, DR Congo
Civilians in eastern Congo are still suffering from conflict
The European Union has pledged 80m euros (55m; $106m) to help the Democratic Republic of Congo hold elections next year.

EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said the aid would be the largest contribution ever made by the union in support of an election.

Speaking in the capital, Kinshasa, Mr Michel said peace and stability were now in reach in the country.

The DRC is struggling to recover from a civil war that killed three million.

The five-year conflict in the sprawling, mineral-rich country was officially declared over last year.

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But violence has continued in the east, where Rwanda has threatened to pursue Hutu guerrillas.

General elections due in June 2005 are designed to complete the peace process, in which former rebel groups have already joined a power-sharing interim government.

Congo's independent electoral commission says the election is expected to cost about $285m.

On Friday the International Crisis Group, a think-tank, urged the UN - which has peacekeepers in Congo - to take tougher action to prevent another full-scale war.


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