One Candidate Clearly Won DRC Election, Catholic Church Says

One Candidate Clearly Won DRC Election, Catholic Church Says

One Candidate Clearly Won DRC Election, Catholic Church Says

The commission says it will publish complete provisional results on Sunday at the earliest.

The Catholic Bishops' National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) did not name the victor, but said in a statement Thursday that "data in its possession, extracted from vote counting reports from polling stations, designates the selection of one candidate as president".

CENCO called on election overseers "to publish the election results in keeping with truth and justice", said spokesman Father Donatien Nshole.

DRC has never known a peaceful handover of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960 and many fear there will be renewed bloodshed if the results lack credibility.

The U.S. Department of State, in a statement by its Deputy Spokesperson, Robert Palladino, said the December 30 election was one of the most important elections in DRC history.

Washington also called on the DRC authorities to remove restrictions on internet access and media and urged the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) to count votes in a transparent way. This is one of those moments for the DRC.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende accused Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent in Kinshasa, Florence Morice, of violating electoral law and "the code of good conduct for foreign journalists covering the elections".

But he invoked a caretaker clause in the constitution to stay on, sparking protests which were ruthlessly crushed, leaving scores dead.

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They have been further postponed in several areas of the country hit by violence.

CENCO said it deployed more than 40,000 observers to monitor Sunday's vote, the first presidential ballot since 2011.

Any irregularities must be addressed and "votes need to be counted transparently and expeditiously", committee chair Ed Royce said late on Tuesday.

The various moves reflected high tensions in Congo, where the long-delayed election was meant to choose a successor to Kabila, who is due to step down next month after 18 years in power - and two years after the official end of his mandate.

However, the head of CENI, Corneille Nangaa told the AFP news agency that provisional results may be delayed, saying: "We are working 'round the clock. But if we can't, we can't".

Both the opposition and ruling coalition said on Monday they were on track to win after a turbulent election day on Sunday in which many Congolese were unable to vote due to an Ebola outbreak, conflict and logistical problems.

A gargantuan operation is underway to collect all the votes from the 80,000 polling stations in the vast country - DR Congo is as big as France, Germany and the Low Countries combined - which is largely jungle and has few major roads or railways. Results from all 73,000 voting stations would then be consolidated, he said.

Within hours of clearing the first hurdle of potential violence on polling day, the first candidates began declaring victory and voicing allegations of fraud.

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