U.S. troops on standby as Congo election results delayed

Envelopes containing presidential ballots wait to be counted by Congolese independent electoral commission officials at a local results compilation center in Kinshasa Congo Friday Jan. 4 2019. CENI said Thursday the results from 20% of the polli

DR Congo on edge as election results postponed

A week after crucial elections to replace long-term president Joseph Kabila, the DR Congo was on tenterhooks Sunday with no date for the announcement of delayed results and just over half of ballots counted.

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

"The Lamuka coalition warns CENI against any attempt to modify the results which were posted on the polling stations and will hold it responsible for all consequences which would result from this situation", Lumbi said.

According to a letter to the US Congress, Trump stated that the first members of this US contingent arrived in Libreville, Gabon, on January 2, to be "in position to support the security of US citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa". More will be deployed as needed to Gabon, Congo or neighboring Republic of Congo, he wrote.

Congo's Catholic church body CENCO has said it identified the victor based on its own tallies collected by 40,000 observers, though it did not name the winner.

A CENI spokesman later said the commission was holding a meeting on Sunday to decide when they will be announced.

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Congo has never seen a peaceful transfer of power since winning independence from Belgium in 1960.

The Catholic Church in Congo said Thursday that it had election results showing one candidate clearly winning, but did not say who it was.

This explanation has failed to impress leading opposition candidate and businessman Martin Fayulu, who said the delaying tactic was deliberate and an attempt to impede his campaign. Prior to the DRC's long-awaited elections the United States ordered "non-emergency" government employees and family members to leave the country.

At stake is a vast country rich in the minerals that power the world's mobile phones and laptops, yet desperately underdeveloped. The electoral commission had planned to use the internet to collect vote totals.

Kabila had previously repeatedly refused to step down after 16-years in power and despite his presidential mandate ending in 2016 after two-terms in office. The eastern region is an opposition center and critics said the disenfranchisement of voters there undermines the election's credibility. The delay led to sometimes deadly protests as authorities cracked down, and Shadary is now under European Union sanctions for his role in the crackdown as interior minister at the time. He took power following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila in 2001. Chaos at polling stations on the day of the vote and a block on internet connections and SMS services since have severely dampened hopes that the election would bring a measure of political stability. The U.S. has urged the government to restore internet service, and a United Nations human rights spokeswoman has warned that "these efforts to silence dissent could backfire considerably when the results are announced".

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