Congo signs Constitution; polls by end of June

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo has signed a constitution that paves the way for general elections in the country and gives birth to a Third Republic.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 17:57 IST

Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has signed a revolutionary constitution that paves the way for general elections later this year and gives birth to the country's Third Republic.

The adoption of the basic law is being seen as a milestone in Congo's transition process from its devastating 1998-2003 war conditions, into a decentralised democratic state.

"By virtue of my constitutional powers, I declare that the new constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo is now in effect," Kabila said at a ceremony held in Kinshasa.

The event was marked by a 21-gun salute.

Guests of honour at the ceremony included African Union Chairman and president of the neighbouring Republic of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, and President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, a key player in the country's transition.

Also present at the function were European Union representative to Africa's Great Lakes region, Aldo Ajello, and European Development Commissioner Louis Michel.

A new national flag was hoisted, featuring a yellow star in the upper-left corner of a sky-blue background with a diagonal wide red stripe edged in yellow.

Now that the constitution is on the statute books, the parliament can decide on the electoral legislation required for the polls, slated to take place before the end of June.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has not held proper elections for over 40 years now.

First Published: Feb 18, 2006 17:57 IST