Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Crackdown on dissent in tense DRC could 'backfire'

Crackdown on dissent in tense DRC could 'backfire'

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".

The powerful Catholic church has said its data show a clear victor, angering Congo's ruling party.

Opposition fears are running high that the result will be rigged to favour Kabila's preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Congo is expected to release provisional results of the election early next week; however, some election monitors warned that the results may have been tainted.

The coalition "deplores ... the partisan, irresponsible and anarchic attitude of CENCO", said Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, an adviser to Kabila and spokesman for Shadary.

Most voters in Congo went to the polls Sunday - after more than two years of delays and countless protests - to elect the successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years.

The UN Security Council will hold a closed-door meeting today, requested by France, about the elections.

Friday's meeting underscored that the council is keeping close watch on the electoral process, French Ambassador François Delattre said.

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The SADC's qualified endorsement countered allegations by opposition candidates that the December 30 vote was marred by widespread irregularities and criticism by a senior US lawmaker that the election was "neither free nor fair".

In a letter to congressional leaders, Trump said the first of about 80 military personnel arrived in Gabon on Wednesday in case they are needed to protect USA citizens and diplomatic facilities in Congo's capital Kinshasa.

The United States urged Congo to release accurate results and restore internet access, warning that those who undermine the democratic process could face US sanctions.

Communications Minister Lambert Mende has warned foreign media against any move to forestall announcement of the results, saying this task was exclusively the right of CENI.

"We are watching carefully and we are calling on all sides to refrain from the use of violence", she said.

"The holding of these elections constitutes, in itself, a first great victory for the Congolese people", it said.

Elections to succeed him were delayed several times before they finally took place, and were further postponed in several areas hit by violence. It was called Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko, the US-backed strongman who ruled between 1960 and 1997, when he was ousted by rebels led by the current president's father Laurent Desire-Kabila.

But critics say there has been little improvement in the quality of life for average Congolese and accuse the government of brutally suppressing dissent.

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