US cautions DR Congo against manipulating election results

The count is underway after Sunday's vote to determine who succeeds Joseph Kabila as president after his 18 years in power. AFP  File  Luis TATO

The count is underway after Sunday's vote to determine who succeeds Joseph Kabila as president after his 18 years in power. AFP File Luis TATO

Democratic Republic of Congo's ruling coalition accused the country's Catholic Church on Friday of behaving in an "irresponsible and anarchic" way after it said it knew the victor of last Sunday's presidential election.

For now, however, the country's National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) is refusing to release the results of the presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly elections on December 30, citing logistical problems, including delays in counting all of the votes.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Trump said the first of about 80 military personnel arrived in Gabon on Wednesday in case they are needed to protect USA citizens and diplomatic facilities in Congo's capital Kinshasa.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende told reporters on Thursday that the election went smoothly.

Trump's letter says more military personnel will deploy as needed to Gabon, Congo or neighboring Republic of Congo.

The result of the delayed poll held on 30 December - which featured 21 candidates - is due to be announced on Sunday, although the DRC's electoral commission announced that this may be pushed back.

Kabila's government has cut off internet in the Congo, and shut down Radio France Internationale (RFI) and some local media outlets this week, saying it wanted to prevent the circulation of "fake" results.

Approval of the election's results by SADC powers like South Africa and Angola will be critical for the legitimacy of the administration of the next president, who will succeed veteran incumbent Joseph Kabila on January 18.

President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years, promised to leave office, but said he would remain active in politics.

Attempts by authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to crack down on dissent during tense vote counting could "backfire", the United Nations said Friday, warning it was "watching carefully" as events unfold.

Kabila, who is backing Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to succeed him, claims the elections were fair.

The election would be the first democratic transfer of power since the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960. The State Department noted the reported troubles on election day and said results should be compiled transparently, with observers present, so that the votes of millions of people "were not cast in vain".

In a major humanitarian developement on Friday, some 16,000 people from DRC have arrived in neighbouring Republic of the Congo - also known as Congo-Brazzaville - after fleeing deadly intercommunal clashes.

Shadary faced off in Sunday's poll against two main opposition challengers, Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu, both of whom opinion polls before the vote showed running ahead of Shadary.

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