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Congo election candidates call for halt to campaign

Written by: Staff
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KINSHASA, July 5 (Reuters) More than half the presidential candidates for Congo's landmark elections this month have called for the suspension of campaigning in a row over the printing of millions of extra ballot papers.

Nineteen candidates said the printing and distribution of an extra five million ballot papers, which are meant to replace those that could be lost or destroyed, put the credibility and transparency of the July 30 poll in danger.

''We demand the suspension of campaigning while all the irregularities in the electoral process are dealt with,'' the candidates said in a statement issued late yesterday.

The extra ballot papers should be publicly destroyed as there was no guarantee of where they had ended up or that they would not be used to rig the election, the candidates added.

Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential and parliamentary vote would be the vast country's first free election in over 40 years.

The poll is meant to draw a line under Congo's last war, a 1998-2003 conflict that sucked in six neighbouring countries and has killed four million people. There are 33 candidates running for president.

REUTERS CH BD1621

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