AU urges 'respect' for results of DR Congo vote

A woman transports an electronic voting machine from a polling station in Kinshasa

Envelopes containing presidential ballots wait to be counted by Congolese independent electoral commission (CENI) officials at a local results compilation centre in Kinshasa, Congo, Friday Jan. 4, 2019.

The church's letter to the electoral commission's president comes a day before the expected announcement of the first, partial results of the December 30 election.

"We are aware this process has always been surrounded by distrust", he said, referring to calls from the Catholic Church, the African Union, the USA and other diplomats for the government to announce accurate results. And 23 per cent of its observers' reports noted that voting had to be suspended at some point because of troubles with voting machines.

The opposition, represented by its two main candidates Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, and the ruling coalition all say their candidates have won.

However, the head of CENI, Corneille Nangaa told the AFP news agency that provisional results may be delayed, saying: "We are working 'round the clock".

"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).

France requested the meeting, which was scheduled for 15:00, as world powers await results from the landmark vote held last Sunday.

A negative worldwide reaction could be problematic for Kabila, whose government has defended the election's organization, and could weaken the legitimacy of Kabila's hand-picked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, should he be declared victor.

The government and national electoral commission (CENI) said the election was fair and that any problems were minor.

US President Donald Trump deployed 80 US military personnel to Gabon in response to possible violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo following a disputed election.

Western powers and DRC's neighbours hope sub-Saharan Africa's biggest country will see its first peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960.

But critics say there has been little improvement in the quality of life for average Congolese and accuse the government of brutally suppressing dissent.

That is the question observers are asking after the opposition coalition said they will not accept a result that does not declare their candidate Martin Fayulu the victor.

"We handle sensitive data and have to handle it responsibly", he said.

He was barred from running for another term under the constitution, and was supposed to step down two years ago, but the election was postponed after the electoral commission said it needed more time to register voters.

Election observers and the opposition have raised concerns about voting irregularities, including the government's decision to bar 1 million voters in eastern Congo from casting ballots because of what it said was the Ebola outbreak in the region.

The Electoral Commission (CENI), the only body mandated to announce the victor said they are still counting the votes and urged all parties to remain calm.

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