The Democratic Republic of Congo could see a return to mass violence unless its transitional government makes urgent reforms, a report warns.
The FDLR threat in the east remains a stumbling block to unity
The International Crisis Group report says that two years after the end of the civil war, 1,000 people are dying each day from war-related causes.
Polls due next year are threatened by corruption and mismanagement among the various government factions, it says.
Under a 2002 peace deal, most warring parties joined the government.
Some 3m people died in DR Congo's brutal five year civil war.
"With elections already postponed for a year, security sector reform, good governance and justice... must be prerequisites for elections or the transition process will continue to crumble, and the country will descend into renewed ethnic violence," Crisis Group's Suliman Baldo says.
Reunification is being hampered by failure to integrate the national army and disarm militia, the Brussels-based think tank says.
Its report entitled A Congo Action Plan also points to the ongoing threat of the Rwandan FDLR Hutu rebels the east.
These fighters should be returned to Rwanda and forcibly disarmed if they don't want to voluntarily, the report says.
Other armed factions have also not been dealt with.
"In northern Katanga, Mai-Mai groups have fought each other and the Congolese army, displacing over 280,000 people in the province."
While Some 4,000 to 5,000 combatants in Ituri still regularly attacked the local population.
It blames a weak UN peacekeeping mission for not adequately protecting civilians and calls on the UN Security Council to authorise more troops to join the UN 19,000 peacekeepers already in the DR Congo, with a formally strengthened mandate.
The main problem facing DR Congo, however, was the reluctance of former adversaries to give up power "and assets for the national good".
The UN currently has 19,000 peacekeepers in DR Congo
"Extensive embezzlement has resulted in inadequate and irregular payment of civil servants and soldiers, making the state itself perhaps the largest security threat to the Congolese people," the report says.
So far, 60% of the estimated 28m voters have been registered for next March's polls, AFP reports.
The ICG advises the Congolese government to pass key electoral laws to ensure free and fair elections and the international community to set up a robust monitoring system.
Meanwhile, the UN says militiamen near the eastern town of Bukavu have freed a group of around 40 disarmament officers they had briefly held hostage.
They were seized in a disarmament camp by militiamen who had been waiting for several weeks for their promised disarmament payments, a UN spokeswoman said.
The UN peacekeepers went to the scene and the release of the officers came after National Commission for Disarmament officers promised the men they would be paid by Sunday.