Congo government defends trouble-hit election process

Congo government defends trouble-hit election process”

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.

The first members of this United States contingent arrived in Libreville, Gabon on January 2, Trump said in a letter sent to Congress on Friday.

Government spokesperson Lambert Mende, confirming that RFI's broadcasts had been cut off in all of Congo's cities, said that Kinshasa would not "let a radio station throw petrol on the flames at a time when we are waiting for the compilation of the provisional results".

The troops will remain in the region until the security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) "becomes such that their presence is no longer needed".

The electoral commission is slated to release provision results on Sunday, but there may be a delay because of slow vote counting.

Washington also called on the DRC authorities to remove restrictions on internet access and media and urged the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) to count votes in a transparent way.

On December 30, citizens in the DRC went to the polls to elect a president to take over from Joseph Kabila, who has led the country since 2001, according to Reuters.

Congo faces what could be its first democratic, peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960, but election observers and the opposition have raised concerns about voting irregularities.

The meeting came even as the UN Human Rights office (OHCHR) termed the post-election environment in the DRC as "calm but tense" as the country waits for the results of the presidential poll.

CENCO secretary-general Donatien Nshole had said on Thursday that church tallies showed a clear victor in the election, which was widely interpreted as a warning against manipulating the results.

Thirty-eight per cent of the some 40,000 polling stations the mission observed were still missing electoral materials more than three hours after polls opened on Sunday, the mission said.

Election results were initially scheduled to be released on Sunday but could be delayed.

In response, the electoral commission accused the Church on Friday of "preparing an insurrection" by declaring that it knew the victor of the election.

Choukran told CPJ that in order to report and publish, his outlets were forced to rely on a roaming connection from Brazzaville, the capital of neighboring Republic of Congo, and that online views had plummeted during the outage. 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.

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