DR Congo: Election commission delays results as Catholic Church hits back

DR Congo: Election commission delays results as Catholic Church hits back

DR Congo: Election commission delays results as Catholic Church hits back

The deployment of US troops to Central Africa signals mounting concerns of possible violence as the nation of Congo awaits the results of its recent presidential election. No date for the announcement was given.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) had said it would release preliminary results on January 6, followed by a definitive count on January 15 with the new president to be sworn in three days later.

Provisional results from the contentious polls were expected on Sunday and the Catholic Church has said it knows the victor according to its own unofficial tallies.

"We are surprised by the allegations of 'systematically violating legal provisions relating to the organisation of elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, '" wrote Marcel Utembi Tapa, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (Cenco).

The Catholic church, an influential voice in the heavily Catholic nation, caused surprise on Thursday by announcing that data reported by its 40,000 election observers deployed in all polling stations show a clear victor.

The U.S. Department of State, in a statement by its Deputy Spokesperson, Robert Palladino, said the December 30 election was one of the most important elections in DRC history.

The opposition, represented by its two main candidates Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, and the ruling coalition say their candidates have won.

Internet and text messaging services were cut off the day after the election in an apparent effort by the government to prevent social media speculation about the results.

"Tensions were mounting while the CENI tabulated the results, notably in light of posturing by parties and candidates", Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo, told the meeting, according to the internal report.

While Congo was largely calm during and after the voting, President Donald Trump said about 80 military personnel and combat equipment had been deployed to neighbouring Gabon to protect American citizens and diplomatic facilities in Congo.

"We don't want to release too many voting trends (before January 6) because in our country we don't have a population that has the same understanding (of electoral practice as in Europe)", he told Reuters. Western election observers were not invited to watch the vote.

The long-delayed election is meant to lead to Congo's first democratic transfer of power, but Sunday's vote was marred by logistical problems and accusations from the opposition of fraud.

Trump's letter says more military personnel will deploy as needed to Gabon, Congo or neighboring Republic of Congo.

The US demanded that "accurate" election results be released, warning of sanctions against anyone who undermined the fledgling democracy. According to the report, only the electoral commission is allowed to announce the victor. The worldwide community has urged Congo to release accurate results.

The DRC has never had a peaceful transition of power; its first democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated in 1961, one year after the country gained independence from Belgium.

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