DRC Catholic church warns of election uprising

Congolese independent electoral commission officials count the presidential ballots from over 900 polling stations at a local results compilation center in Kinshasa Congo Friday Jan. 4 2019. CENI said Thursday the results from 20% of the polling

DRC Catholic church warns of election uprising

Corneille Nangaa told The Associated Press that the results of the December 30 election will not be made public Sunday as expected. Pre-election polling showed the main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi ahead of ex - interior minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is former DRC president Joseph Kabila's preferred candidate.

The group representing Congo's Catholic bishops said last week that its thousands of observers had gathered evidence that there was a clear victor in the election.

Kabila had previously repeatedly refused to step down after 16-years in power and despite his presidential mandate ending in 2016 after two-terms in office.

Preliminary election results were expected to be announced on Sunday, exactly a week after the vote. He said the official electoral commission will confirm the delay later Sunday.

Corneille Nangaa, president of the National Independent Electoral Commission or CENI, told reporters that only 53 percent of ballots from polling stations had arrived at counting centers after announcing the delay Saturday.

In his letter Nangaa warned CENCO would "alone be responsible" for unrest after disseminating "insignificant and partial data".

Congo faces what could be its first democratic, peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. In yesterday's meeting, France pushed for the publication of a statement that recognised that Congo's election allowed people to exercise their democratic right and called for calm, but criticised the government's decision to cut access to the Internet and some media outlets. It did not publicly name the winning candidate, but it is widely reported that the Catholic observers have identified Mr. Fayulu, the leading opposition candidate, as the victor. Election observers and the opposition have raised concerns about voting irregularities as the country chooses a successor to longtime ruler Kabila, although a landslide win by one of the opposition candidates could remove any doubts that the election was skewed to the ruling party's candidate.

Western observers were not invited to watch the balloting, and the USA has threatened sanctions against those who undermine the democratic process.

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said 80 U.S. military personnel and "appropriate combat equipment" had been deployed to the Central African country of Gabon to protect U.S. assets from possible "violent demonstrations".

Ahead of the vote, the USA ordered "non-emergency" government employees and family members to leave the country.

The delay could stoke tensions in the unstable African giant of 80 million people. He took power following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila in 2001.

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