DRC election results delayed until 'next week' - electoral commission

DRC election results delayed until 'next week' - electoral commission

Democratic Republic of Congo's government cut internet connections and SMS services across the country for a second straight day on Tuesday as the country nervously awaited results from the weekend's chaotic presidential election.

A polling official counts votes in a school in Kinshasa on December 30, 2018, during Democratic Republic of Congo's general elections. Electoral authorities have indicated a delay might be needed.

The National Independent Electoral Commission (Ceni) is expected to delay the announcement of the provisional results today, but the Catholic council of bishop's conference, known as Cenco, which deployed 40 000 monitors, has announced that the victor of the election is known. The commission says it will publish complete provisional results on Sunday at the earliest.

The country's powerful National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), which represents the country's Catholic bishops, warned popular anger could result in the event the final result were not "true to the verdict of the ballot box".

The Catholic Church, which fielded thousands of observers, said on Thursday there was 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.

Congo's ruling party, which backs Kabila's preferred candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, called the church's attitude "irresponsible and anarchist".

Kabila's government has cut off internet in the Congo, and shut down Radio France Internationale (RFI) and some local media outlets this week, saying it wanted to prevent the circulation of "fake" results. Regional observers have said the vote went relatively well given the organisational challenges.

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Both the opposition and Kabila's handpicked candidate claim they have won, without posting specific figures.

Western powers and DRC's neighbours hope sub-Saharan Africa's biggest country will see its first peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960.

But the ruling coalition, the FCC, angrily rebuffed the church's statement, accusing CENCO of "seriously breaching" the constitution and electoral law by "illegally declaring voting trends" in favour of a given candidate.

Anticipating growing conflict, Trump said more US military personnel will deploy as needed to Gabon, Congo or neighboring Republic of Congo.

The United States demanded that "accurate" election results be released and called on the DRC authorities to remove restrictions on internet access.

Opinion polls that were released three days to the elections by the New York University, an affiliated Congo Research Group, put Mr Fayulu in the lead with 44 per cent, followed by Mr Tshisekedi at 24 per cent and Mr Shadary at 18 per cent.

The United States, which has threatened to impose sanctions against those who undermine the election process and has deployed troops to Gabon in case its citizens need rescuing from any violence, backed the statement, alongside Britain, Ivory Coast, Belgium and others.

The commission on Friday said the church's announcement could incite an "uprising".

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