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Africa

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

media Congolese voter casts his ballot at a polling station in the Victoire district of Kinshasa on 30 December 2018. Photo: John Wessels/AFP

Provisional results from elections in Democratic of Republic of Congo expected on Sunday are set to be delayed until next week, according to the electoral commission. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church responded on Saturday to accusations by the electoral commission that the Church’s bishops’ conference was preparing an “insurrection” over the announcement of results.

“It’s not possible to publish results on Sunday,” said electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa, according to the AFP news agency. “We are making progress, but we do not have everything yet,” he added, without giving more detail on the expected date.

Provisional results from the contentious polls were expected on Sunday and the Catholic Church has said it knows the winner according to its own unofficial tallies. The Church on Saturday answered allegations by the electoral commission that it was hoping to stoke an “insurrection”.

“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).

“It is unfortunate to accuse Cenco of ‘intoxicating the population by preparing an uprising for which Cenco will be solely responsible’ and to make it a possible scapegoat,” said the Cenco statement.

“It is the [electoral] irregularities that would irritate the population and the most serious thing that could lead the Congolese people to revolt would be to publish results … which do not conform to the truth of the polls,” said Cenco.

The electoral commission had said that Cenco was attempting to “brainwash the population” through its comments about the possible victor in the 30 December elections, according to a letter from Corneille Nangaa, the electoral commission’s chief.

Cenco has suggested it knows the winner of the polls owing to unofficial tallies it carried out as part of a 40,000-strong observation mission.

“We have observed that the Congolese people have chosen a candidate as president of the republic,” Donatien Nshole, secretary general of Cenco, told RFI’s Sonia Rolley in an interview broadcast on Friday. “It is not up to us to proclaim the results,” he said, adding that it was the responsibility of the electoral commission.

Nshole said their observation mission had noted irregularities, but that they were not enough to “impede” the choice expressed by the Congolese people. “The will of the Congolese people has been respected, at least at the polls,” he added.

Catholic bishops met with President Joseph Kabila on Friday, according to reports from the Reuters news agency.

International pressure

The UN Security Council held a meeting on Friday about the latest developments in the DRC. The closed door meeting was held at France’s request, but a joint Security Council declaration was blocked by South Africa, Russia, China and Indonesia, according to sources who spoke to RFI’s Sonia Rolley.

“The results that will be proclaimed must be consistent with the vote of the Congolese people,” said Francois Delattre, France’s UN ambassador, on the sidelines of the UN Security Council meeting.

The EU on Friday called on election authorities to ensure that the results reflected the will of the Congolese people.

“All the political actors in the Democratic Republic of Congo have the responsibility to contribute to the success of this transition in the spirit of peace and reconciliation,” said a statement from a spokesperson for the EU’s external action service.

The African’s Union top diplomat Moussa Faki Mahamat said that “respect of the election results is crucial” in a tweet after meeting with Dioncounda Traoré, head of the AU’s observer mission.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that American soldiers had deployed to Gabon in case they are needed to protect US citizens and diplomatic buildings in the Congolese capital Kinshasa.

A letter from Trump said 80 military personnel had been put in place with “appropriate combat equipment” in response to the possibility that “violent demonstrations” may occur in reaction to elections.

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