Monday, 25 March, 2019

US cautions DR Congo against manipulating election results

US deploys 80 troops over possible violence in DRC DRC chokes communications as vote counting continues after tense elections
Troy Mann | 05 January, 2019, 12:45

Congo's electoral commission is expected to release provisional results of the presidential election on Sunday, but it has said there could be delays because of the slow arrival of tally sheets.

President Donald Trump announced that 80 U.S. troops were deployed to Libreville, Gabon, in Africa, to provide security for Americans and "diplomatic facilities" in Congo.

The retort sets up a standoff between the government and the Catholic Church, one of Congo's most powerful institutions which represents about 40 percent of its 80 million people.

Elections to succeed him were delayed several times before they finally took place, and were further postponed in several areas hit by violence.Tension has risen further over the marathon counting process with opposition fears running high that the result will be rigged to favor Mr Kabila's preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Leading western powers on Tuesday called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to restore internet access, which operators say was cut on government orders a day earlier following presidential elections.

On Thursday, the United States called on CENI to publish accurate results and threatened sanctions against anyone who sought to undermine the process. There was no immediate reaction from the government, though regional monitors earlier said the December 30 vote was "relatively well-managed" given the challenges involved.

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Most voters in Congo went to the polls Sunday - after more than two years of delays and countless protests - to elect the successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years.

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

Pre-election opinion polls showed Shadary trailing Fayulu and Tshisekedi, who have been buoyed by rising dissatisfaction with Kabila's tenure.

The joint statement by the western missions supporting their request for access was also backed by some individual European Union member states - Belgium, Britain, France the Netherlands and Sweden. On Friday, the UN Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the Congo. At one centre in the capital, Kinshasa, dozens of large bags full of opaque envelopes were piled up while electoral commission agents sat in a courtyard and opened them one by one.

"We want the electoral commission to be able to work in good conditions because we want peace and we want the true results to be published", said Fiskas Kalombo, a witness for Fayulu's opposition coalition.

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