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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
DR Congo political ban lifted

Joseph Kabila's announcement is timely
By Mark Dummett in Kinshasa

Restrictions on the activities of political parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been lifted.

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila said all those parties that were in operation under former President Mobuto Sese Seko, would be able to resume their work without interference.

He announced the move at a church mass in memory of his assassinated father Laurent Kabila, saying the new law would come into effect immediately, following the advice of the political parties.

It came on the fourth anniversary of the toppling of Mobutu

Since the rebel army of his father entered Kinshasa exactly four years ago, political parties - of which they are as many as 450 - have been able to exist, but meetings and campaigns have been banned.

UN talks

The announcement came only hours before the arrival in Kinshasa of ambassadors of the United Nations Security Council, on the second leg of their tour of the countries involved in the war in Congo.

UN troops
The UN expects to deploy 3,000 troops
They will be meeting the government as well as opposition parties, to evaluate the state of the peace process in the country.

They will also encourage the full withdrawal of all foreign troops and a setting up of a national dialogue and eventual elections.

A senior member of the biggest political party in the capital, the UDPS, said the two events were linked.

Jean Joseph Mukendi, said that Joseph Kabila had make such changes before, but that nothing much had changed.

He said that each time a senior international delegation arrived in Kinshasa an announcement is made but that he is still waiting for concrete change.

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See also:

16 Apr 01 | Africa
Kabila makes his mark
02 May 01 | Africa
Congo war effects 'apocalyptic'
16 Jan 01 | Africa
DR Congo's troubled history
26 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
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