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Last Updated: Monday, 22 August 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
DR Congo voters begin to register
Congolese citizens walk along the coast of the Kivu River
Many Congolese are keen to register to vote
Voters have begun registering in the Democratic Republic of Congo's war-torn east, home to more than half of the country's population.

Around 1,000 voter registration centres are due to open in the eastern Kivu region over the next few days.

Centres in North and South Kivu have already had a massive turnout with hundreds queuing for voting cards.

Elections were due before the end of June under the terms of a peace deal, but MPs have backed a six-month delay.


Organising voting in the troubled region will be seen as a real test of the electoral process, says the BBC's Arnaud Zajtman.

Sporadic ethnic conflict is still taking place in the area, despite the presence of the world's largest UN peacekeeping force.

Army rebels

Despite an official end to the war two years ago, DR Congo's central government has not managed to retake control of the country's entire eastern provinces.

The main army unit in North Kivu is made up Rwanda-supported rebels who have refused to merge with the regular Congolese army.

Other parts of the eastern province are controlled by Rwandan Hutu rebels who have refused to lay down their arms.

Ethnic militias continue to clash in the nearby Ituri region, where some 50,000 people have been killed in recent years.

A lack of roads and electricity in the area is also making the task more difficult.

The head of the country's electoral committee has asked for an additional $20m from the international community to overcome these challenges.

Nevertheless, long queues have already formed at the few voting centres already opened.

Many Congolese are keen to get polling cards - also valid as identity documents - in an area which has had no census for decades.


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