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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 15:24 GMT
DR Congo's election faces delay
Renegade Congolese soldiers in Kirumba, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
Renewed tensions in the east of the country has prompted concerns
A general election planned for DR Congo in June may have to be delayed, the head of the electoral commission has admitted for the first time.

Apollinaire Malu Malu indicated the poll would probably take place in October, before heavy rains make parts of the country inaccessible.

Talk of a possible delay follows a warning from the UN's Kofi Annan about the security situation in the east.

The secretary general says rebel groups from Rwanda are still in the area.

A five-year civil war in the huge country left nearly three million people dead from hunger and disease.

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The war is supposed to have ended in 2002 but fighting has persisted in the east, by soldiers who were once rebels backed by Rwanda.

Under the peace deal signed by all the main factions at the end of the war, elections are due to be held by the end of June.

However it does allow for two delays of up to six months each, if approved by parliament.

Logistical problems

In a New Year's Eve address, President Joseph Kabila said he was determined to hold the election this year.

"Only credible elections will bring about political stability in our country," he said.

The head of the electoral commission said on Friday he did not take June as a "fixed date" - but he suggested parliament should fix a date "once and for all".

"I don't want to announce dates repeatedly that we cannot achieve," he said.

On Thursday, Mr Annan said in a report that there were "serious challenges" to holding the election in June.

The UN has also expressed concerns about the logistics of holding an election in a country which is so large, yet lacks basic infrastructure.

According to the UN's humanitarian chief Jan Egeland, about 1,000 people are dying every day in DR Congo - many from disease and malnutrition.


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