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US offers $30M to Congo for upcoming elections

KDWN

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The United States is prepared to give Congo $30 million in aid for stability and democracy-building – but wants President Joseph Kabila to agree to step down at the end of his current term in office, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday.

Kerry said Congo’s government also needs to schedule elections soon. The vote is tentatively set for 2016, although a firm date has not yet been set.

In a private Sunday meeting, Kerry said he urged Kabila to follow Congo’s constitution in the upcoming elections, which would prohibit him from running for a third consecutive term as president.

It was not clear if Kabila agreed.

“It is important to the people to be able to know what the process is, to have confidence in that process,” Kerry told reporters after the meeting. “The sooner the process is announced, the sooner that the date is set, the sooner people have an ability to be able to participate. And we believe it ought to be done in keeping with the constitutional process of the country.”

The $30 million U.S. pledge would more than doubles the $12 million in assistance given to Congo last year.

The funding would help further stability efforts in Congo, which has been wracked by violence for two decades. Kerry said more must be done to combat Congo-based rebels, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym, FDLR, whose members are accused of perpetrating the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda.

Kerry also said he urged Kabila to lift a freeze on international adoptions of Congolese orphans.