Thursday, 17 January, 2019

US Troops Deployed to Central Africa Over Concerns of Violence in Congo

Observers have not been allowed to monitor those counting the votes. /COURTESY Observers have not been allowed to monitor those counting the votes. /COURTESY
Sherri Watson | 05 January, 2019, 11:58

The DR Congo's influential Catholic Church, which had deployed 41,000 election monitors, said on Thursday that it knew who had won the election and called on electoral authorities to publish the correct results.

The church, a powerful voice in the heavily Catholic nation, deployed some 40,000 electoral observers but could not say who the clear victor appeared to be, as Congo's electoral regulations forbid anyone but the electoral commission to announce results. The commission accused the church of violating the regulations.

Observers have reported multiple irregularities as the vast, mineral-rich Central African country voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila.

Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary is Kabila's favoured candidate; Felix Tshisekedi, who now leads his late father Etienne's UDPS party; and another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu. According to reports, more than one million people were prevented from voting in opposition strongholds, after the electoral commission cancelled the polls there citing an outbreak of Ebola.

Representatives of the conference of the church's bishop said the votes revealed a clear victor - a move seen by some people as a warning against vote rigging by the government.

Democratic Republic of Congo's government on Thursday (Jan 3) defended the credibility of last weekend's disorganised presidential election and its decision to cut Internet access to 80 million citizens in the aftermath.

"We are calling on all sides to refrain from the use of violence", she said.

CENI had stated that the first batch of results will be released on January 6, 2019 - a week after the historic elections took place across the country, except for three cities.

He later told a news conference that election officials had collected about 20% of the results needed and that results from all 73,000 voting stations would then be consolidated.

The United States was deeply concerned by the DRC's National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) decision to deny accreditation to several worldwide election observers and media representatives, it said.

The UN Security Council will on Friday hold a closed-door meeting, requested by France, about the elections, diplomats said.

It now faces mounting pressure from the European Union, the United States and others to restore the internet signal and keep the peace after a contentious and disorganised vote that the opposition said was fraudulent but that the government said was fair and went smoothly.

Ambassador Francois Delattre spoke Friday at United Nations headquarters after a closed-door council meeting that France called. A separate team counted ballots as observers and political parties' witnesses watched.