5 January 2019

Congo-Kinshasa: Congo Election Results Delayed As U.S. Deploys Troops to Africa

Photo: Radio Okapi/Youtube Screenshot
Vehicles in a warehouse of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Kinshasa were destroyed by a fire on December 13, 2018.

The results of last weekend's presidential vote in the Central African nation will be delayed by a week, the electoral commission has announced. The Catholic Church has warned of a popular "uprising" over untrue results.

The first vote tallies from Congo's December 30 presidential election will be delayed past Sunday's deadline, the head of the election commission has said.

Election authorities announced that less than half of the ballots had been counted as of Saturday night.

The election itself was stalled by delays and irregularities which triggered a violent political standoff that left dozens dead across the country.

'A clear winner'

Western powers have upped the pressure on the Congolese government to release accurate election results.

The Carter Center -- an NGO founded by former US President Jimmy Carter to help advance democracy -- said in a statement issued on Saturday that it understands if vote counting "might require a few extra days."

However, the former president urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to "ensure that the final results reflect the will of the Congolese people as expressed at the polls."

Carter's comments echoed calls from Washington and the African Union, among others, urging Congo to release results that reflect the true will of the people. The US has threatened sanctions against those who undermine the democratic process.

Western election observers, including those from the Carter Center, were not invited to watch the proceedings. The Catholic Church, however, deployed some 41,000 monitors who reported a clear winner on Thursday.


Congo votes for first time in nearly two decades

Fears of further violence

The church did not announce a name, as regulations specify only CENI can announce election results. CENI responded, however, by saying the announcement could incite an "uprising."

Ahead of the expected results, US President Donald Trump deployed military personnel to the region . In a letter to Congress, Trump said the troops were sent in response to "the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur" in reaction to the outcome.

The US had ordered "non-emergency" government employees and family members to leave the country ahead of the vote, and issued a warning to its citizens to avoid large crowds and demonstrations.

Congo's last two elections in 2006 and 2011, both won by longtime leader President Joseph Kabila, were marred by bloodshed, and many have feared a repeat if the results are placed in doubt.

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