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Congo Senate bows to protests, drops reforms seen as delaying vote

Saturday, January 24, 2015 - 01:44

After days of deadly violence, Congo senate drops plan for electoral change that the opposition said was designed to keep President Kabila in power. Mana Rabiee reports.

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In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the capitol Kinsasha is licking its wounds. Four days of violence left dozens dead ... in clashes between thousands of protesters and police trying to stop them from storming the Parliament. At issue, the senate had proposed new election law that would have required a census before presidential elections in 2016. The opposition complained that was just designed to keep President Joseph Kabila in power. Lawmakers scrapped the plan after the violence and opposition leaders are happy with the reprieve... but some of them say they were ready to keep up the political pressure with more rallies. (SOUNDBITE)(French) CONGOLESE SENATOR AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION AND MEMBER OF OPPOSITION PARTY MOVEMENT FOR THE LIBERATION OF THE CONGO (MLC), JACK NDJOLI, SAYING: "We need to continue the dialogue so that we can have a global timetable, inclusive, where all the parties agree. Even in the way elections are held, we need to listen to everyone, we can't have one majority rule against the opposition in electoral terms." Activists argued a census would have taken years to pull off, in an impoverished country the size of Western Europe, allowing Kabila to stay in office. Many Kinshasa residents are happy with the outcome. (SOUNDBITE)(French) PATOU KALENGA, KINSHASA RESIDENT, SAYING: "What we need is elections, we don't need any more delays, we are fed up with the delays and all this." Kabila won a second five-year mandate in disputed elections in 2011 and the constitution bars him from seeking a third term. Several long-standing African leaders face looming term limits, so the process in Congo is being closely watched across the continent.

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Congo Senate bows to protests, drops reforms seen as delaying vote

Saturday, January 24, 2015 - 01:44