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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 09:33 GMT
New DR Congo constitution adopted
BY Arnaud Zajtman
BBC News, Kinshasa

Woman celebrates with the new DR Congo flag
Crowds welcomed the adoption of the constitution
The new constitution in the Democratic Republic of Congo has officially been adopted, giving the country a new flag and a new legal framework.

Although the constitution has formally come into force most changes will only happen after elections due in June.

The constitution, approved in a referendum, is meant to transform DR Congo into a real democracy.

The text says the president has to be elected and is only allowed to rule for two terms of five years.

He also has to share power with an elected prime minister.

The parliament has to be elected and a judiciary is independent.

All this is new for DR Congo, a country which is trying to emerge from years of war and which had its last free elections 40 years ago.

DR CONGO CONSTITUTION
President limited to two five-year terms
Presidential age limit reduced from 35 to 33
President names prime minister from largest party
Provinces increased from 10 to 26
Same-sex marriage banned
The constitution was promulgated in front of the president of the African Union, Denis Sassou Nguesso and the South African President Thabo Mbeki, who acts as a mediator in the DR Congo crisis.

In the ceremony, also attended by the former warlords who currently sit in DR Congo's power-sharing government, the new flag was put up.

It comprises the colour blue to symbolise peace, crossed by a red line and hedged by two yellow lines - red to recall the blood of the four million who died as a result of the war and yellow for the vast mining of deposits of DR Congo.

Elections are due before the end of June. The constitution says that until then the former warlords who are currently ruling the country remain in place.




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