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Congo: Democratic Rule Restored

August 9, 2002

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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) _ President Denis Sassou-Nguesso on Friday officially proclaimed the restoration of democratic rule in this central African country after back-to-back civil wars ended in 1999.

In an address to the nation, Sassou-Nguesso said his transitional government had succeeded in its aims to restore peace, promote reconciliation and rebuild the institutions of government.

After a series of votes this year, a new constitution was taking effect at midnight, followed by the inauguration of a new parliament on Saturday.

``I solemnly announce the end of the transition as of today,″ Sassou-Nguesso said.

Republic of Congo, an oil-rich nation bordering the much larger Congo, was wracked by successive civil wars in the 1990s.

Peace accords were signed at the end of 1999, and the country’s rival militias began disarming the following year.

But resurgent rebels from those wars have launched attacks in recent months in the southern Pool region.

Sassou-Nguesso, who seized power during fighting in 1997, won a March presidential poll, and will be sworn in on August 14.

His party also won a majority of seats in parliamentary and municipal elections.

``In four years and nine months of transition, Congo has gone from the chaotic situation ... in which it found itself in 1997 to a calm and livable country,″ Communications Minister Francois Ibovi said after Friday’s Cabinet meeting.

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