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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 May, 2005, 05:15 GMT 06:15 UK
New DR Congo constitution backed
Joseph Kabila, DR Congo's president
President Joseph Kabila will be able to run again
The National Assembly in the Democratic Republic of Congo has adopted a new constitution for the country.

The text is intended to end years of war and political instability in the country and has been agreed by all the former warring factions.

The constitution limits the powers of the president, who will now serve a maximum of two five-year terms, and allows a greater degree of federalism.

It also recognises as citizens all ethnic groups at independence in 1960.

This article is a recognition of the citizenship of thousands of ethnic Tutsis, who were transplanted to the then Belgian-ruled Congo back in the 19th Century.

Referendum

The constitution provides for free primary education for all, and an exact parity between men and women in power.

And it sets the minimum age for presidential candidates at 30, allowing current President Joseph Kabila, who is 33, to stand for office.

Parliament speaker Raphael Luhulu said the constitution was the result of a difficult consensus between different factions of the regime.

It replaces a transitional constitutional which emerged at a peace deal reached in the South African city of Pretoria in 2002.

The text, which has already been passed by the Senate, now has to approved in a national referendum within the next six months.

If ratified, the current power-sharing government has until June 2006 to organise free presidential and parliamentary elections, the first for 40 years.

DR Congo is emerging from a five-year war that claimed an estimate three million lives.




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