Saturday, 19 January, 2019


Western powers urge DR Congo to restore Internet

DRC chokes communications as vote counting continues after tense elections US calls for ballot scrutiny in ‘unfair’ DRC election
Melba Vasquez | 05 January, 2019, 11:57

U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that 80 military personnel have been deployed to Gabon due to the possibility of violent demonstrations in nearby Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over its recent presidential elections.

For now, however, the country's National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) is refusing to release the results of the presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly elections on December 30, citing logistical problems, including delays in counting all of the votes.

President Donald Trump says they will protect USA citizens and diplomatic facilities in Congo's capital Kinshasa.

A spokesman for the government, Lambert Mende, yesterday (3 January) defended the credibility of the election and said the decision to cancel voting in the Ebola-hit cities of Beni and Butembo was justified due to safety concerns.

It can not say publicly who the clear victor appears to be, as Congo's electoral regulations forbid anyone but the electoral commission to announce results.

The vote will elect a successor to outgoing President Joseph Kabila and is meant to mark the country's first democratic transition of power.

"The United States stands by the millions of Congolese voters who went to the poll across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on December 30 to participate in presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly election".

"What my colleagues have told me, and they have observed is that the situation remains calm but tense ahead of the announcement of the results of the election", OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said.

Kabila's government cut access to the internet as well as Radio France Internationale (RFI) and some local media this week, saying it wanted to prevent fake results from circulating.

The election was the country's first presidential ballot in seven years.

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

The electoral commission's statements on Friday were in a letter to the church and were confirmed to The Associated Press by the commission's president, Corneille Nangaa.

The electoral commission accused the country's Catholic Church, which represents 40% of the country's 80 million people, of "preparing an insurrection" by saying it knows the victor of the presidential 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. But opposition candidates Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu say there are widespread irregularities.

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