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Congo delays announcing results of presidential election

Congo delays announcing results of presidential election

The vote will decide the successor to current President Joseph Kabila, who took office in 2001 after his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated.

The CENCO mission and another domestic observer group, SYMOCEL, both said in reports on Thursday they witnessed widespread irregularities on election day, though they did not allege outright fraud.

Congo's ruling party, which backs Kabila's preferred candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, called the church's statement "irresponsible and anarchist".

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".

The cities' residents can vote in March, months after Congo's new president is set to be inaugurated on January 18.

Democratic Republic of Congo's powerful Catholic Church has said it knows who has won a much-delayed presidential vote and urged the electoral commission to publish the "truth".

First results are expected on Sunday.

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

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"The Democratic Republic of Congo is at a historic moment toward a democratic transition", the European Union said on Friday, urging the authorities "to ensure the upcoming results conform with the Congolese people's vote".

More than one million Congolese were unable to cast ballots due to the cancellation of voting, which hit opposition strongholds and for which the electoral commission also cited ethnic violence. This could be its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

"We had proposed a solution" for the DRC's infrastructure problems, "but it was refused, now we have to live with the situation", he said.

The DRC's minister for higher education, Steve Mbikayi, on Friday said the country's universities would reopen on January 14 after the year-end break, a week later than scheduled, because of election tensions.

The Catholic church, which holds a great deal of power in the country, has said its data show a clear victor - a comment that has angered Congo's ruling party.

U.S. President Donald Trump says military personnel have deployed to Central Africa in advance of possible "violent demonstrations" in Congo over results of Sunday's presidential election.

"Now more than ever the Congolese people need assurance that the authorities are genuinely committed to the respect for human rights and allowing people to access information from diverse sources and communicate freely is a key part of that". The opposition, represented by its two main candidates Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, and Shadary's camp have all claimed they are on course to win, without posting specific figures.

"The United States stands by the millions of Congolese voters who went to the poll across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on December 30 to participate in presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly election".