Congo delays election results again

KINSHASA,  (Reuters) – Election authorities in  Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday delayed the  announcement of a winner in the country’s presidential election  for the second time this week, citing the need to cross-check  results.

Tensions are high in the central African state after a Nov.  28 poll marred by deadly violence, disorganisation and  allegations of fraud. Both sides have claimed victory.

“We want to apologise, we’re going to continue working and  we will have the results tomorrow,” election commission chief  Daniel Ngoy Mulunda said last evening.

The results from the Nov. 28 vote had first been due on  Tuesday but were then pushed back until Thursday as results had  not yet come in from all parts of the vast country, which is  about half the size of the European Union.

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila leads so far with 48.9  percent of the vote, ahead of veteran opposition leader Etienne  Tshisekedi with 33.3 percent, according to partial results  covering nearly 90 percent of polling stations.

The opposition welcomed the delay to results, saying the  extra time could be used to bolster the vote’s transparency, and  Tshisekedi’s party reiterated its rejection of any Kabila win.

“The reality is that (the electoral commission) is bending  under the pressure of the population. Its not easy to publish a  lie,” Jacquemain Shabani Lukoo, secretary general of the  opposition UDPS, told Reuters.
If results released so far stand, Tshisekedi would need to  win nearly all of the 2.9 million possible votes remaining to  beat Kabila, according to rough calculations of the number of  registered voters and polling stations yet to be counted.

“Everyone’s waiting foir the results. We’ve done our own  compilation and we know that president Kabila has won, but the  announcement must be credible,” Aubin Minaku, secretary general  of the ruling coalition backing Kabila.

Donors have called for results to be published by polling  station instead of in aggregate as a way to ensure results are  credible and transparent.

Brussels-based International Crisis Group warned the results  risked sparking protests that could prompt a bloody repression.  Congo must try to salvage “a badly flawed process” with the  international help, it said.

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