The Latest: Carter urges Congo vote to reflect people’s will
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The Latest on Congo’s presidential election (all times local):
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is urging Congo’s election commission to ensure that presidential election results “reflect the will of the Congolese people” as concerns grow about possible unrest.
A Carter Center statement on the eve of the scheduled announcement of the first results asks Congolese to remain patient, and it says it understands if vote-counting “might require a few extra days.” Electoral authorities have indicated a delay might be needed. Less than half of results had been compiled as of Saturday night.
The Carter Center, which along with other Western observer missions were not invited to watch the vote, urges that vote-counting be transparent and suggests that the electoral commission post polling station-level results on its website.
Internet services in Congo, however, were cut off the day after the election in an apparent effort by the government to prevent social media speculation about the results.
The Catholic church in Congo is warning the country’s electoral commission that publishing untrue results of the presidential election could lead to a popular “uprising.”
The church’s letter to the electoral commission’s president comes a day before the expected announcement of the first, partial results of the Dec. 30 election. The international community has urged Congo to release accurate results.
The church, a powerful voice in the heavily Catholic nation, earlier said its data show a clear winner. The church deployed some 40,000 electoral observers in all polling centers, but Congolese regulations say only the electoral commission can announce election results.
The commission on Friday said the church’s announcement could incite an “uprising.”
Congo’s ruling party, which backs candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, called the church’s attitude “irresponsible and anarchist.” Leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu has not commented.
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.
Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says about 80 military personnel and “appropriate combat equipment” deployed to nearby Gabon to support the security of U.S. citizens and staffers and diplomatic facilities in Congo.
Trump’s letter says more military personnel will deploy as needed to Gabon, Congo or neighboring Republic of Congo.
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 powerful Catholic church has said its data show a clear winner, angering Congo’s ruling party.
First results are expected on Sunday.