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Congo's Nonviolent Push Toward Democracy

In the opinion-page article "Stirrings in Africa," July 25, the author accurately describes the pressure on leaders of three Francophone African countries - Togo, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic - to hold national political conferences. He neglects to point out, however, that much of the pressure on the single-party governments of these countries is a direct result of the successful conclusion of a national conference in the neighboring Republic of Congo.Congo's President Denis Sassou-Nguesso announced in October 1990 the intent to hold a conference that then ran from February to June of this year. The atmosphere of the conference was often times rancorous, but never violent, as the 1,200 delegates mapped out the transition to a multiparty democracy and scheduled elections for all levels of office. Defying the recent history of bloody political transitions in Africa, the opening of the conference was not a result of violent demonstrations and its successful conclusion was accomplished without violence or bloodshed. This can only give hope to neighboring countries for similar results and moves toward pluralist political systems throughout the region. Paul L. Boertlein, Washington

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