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October 27, 2006 3:00 AM

Mood in Congo is uneasy before Sunday's historic election

The climax of Congos long-awaited presidential election the first free vote in this big, battered central African country in more than four decades hasnt exactly been the stuff of civics textbooks. For one thing, the top two candidates, incumbent Joseph Kabila and former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba, maintain formidable personal armies, holdovers from their involvement in Congos recent civil war. With their armies still stationed within striking distance of each other, the candidates have not ventured outside the city or made many public appearances. Kabila declined this week to debate Bemba face to face, and Bemba canceled a major rally on Friday for fear that the crowds could spark unrest.

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