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Pressure mounts on DR Congo to announce election outcome

Kinshasa, DR Congo | AFP | Public and diplomatic pressure mounted Monday on the Democratic Republic of Congo to announce the outcome of December 30 elections to replace long-term leader Joseph Kabila.

More than a week after the crucial poll, the volatile central African country’s electoral commission has not set a date for the results announcement, already postponed once.

The count is taking place in a climate of deep suspicion in a country that has never had a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

On Sunday, election commission head Corneille Nangaa said just over half of ballots had been counted.

He appealed to the public “to remain patient for the time it will take to consolidate all our data.”

But on Monday, the foreign minister of former colonial power Belgium — a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council due to discuss the situation in DR Congo this week — urged haste.

“The important thing today is to publish the results of the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo even if they do not please the powers that be,” Didier Reynders told Belgium’s RTBF broadcaster.

“We hope for an announcement in the coming days.”

For its part, the CLC collective of Congolese Catholic laypeople which coordinated anti-Kabila protests in 2017 and 2018, bemoaned what it described as “collusion” between the country’s ruling FCC coalition and the CENI election commission.

It accused the FCC (Common Front for Congo) and CENI of levelling “aggressive and unjustified” criticism against the country’s powerful Catholic Church, and said this “confirms, in everyone’s eyes, their collusion” and revealed “a hidden agenda.”

The Church had deployed some 40,000 election observers, who fanned out across the vast country.

Its episcopal commission CENCO last week declared that it knew who had won, thanks to its monitoring. It urged the authorities to publish the results “in keeping with truth and justice”.

“The CLC reiterates its call to the Congolese people to remain more than ever vigilant, to remain united and to be wary of arsonists posing as firefighters,” said a CLC statement.

– ‘Safeguard peace’ –

There were protestations from the FCC side as well.

“Ambassadors are saying that (opposition candidate Martin) Fayulu has won,” complained a confidant of Kabila, citing permanent UNSC members France, the United States, and Britain.

Twenty-one candidates ran in the election to succeed Kabila, who has ruled the vast conflict-ridden country for almost 18 years.

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