Tensions High As Congo Election Results Postponed

GEMENA, DR CONGO (December 8, 2011) – Tensions remain high in the country as the government today postponed announcing the results of the presidential election for the second time.

The results were supposed to be announced on Tuesday; however, the government postponed the announcement until today, saying votes still needed to be counted.

Opponents of the incumbent and apparent winner, Joseph Kabila, have said they will not accept the results, claiming the election was stolen. With more than 90 percent of the votes tabulated, Kabila leads his nearest rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, by a margin of 48 to 34 percent.

Members of Kabila’s party in the Parliament strengthened his chances of winning by changing the constitution in January. The change eliminated runoff elections, requiring only a plurality to win.

In Kinshasa, where 10 Congo Covenant Churches (CEUM) are located, numerous businesses closed due to a fear of violence. Many residents also have fled the city.
Government troops used tear gas to disperse Tshisekedi supporters several times this week.

Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Pete Ekstrand reports that the situation remains calm in the northwest region of the country, where most of the CEUM congregations are located.

Ekstrand says he can post information on the Internet, but is unable to text messages. The government has suspended mobile phone messaging, some suggest as one means of hindering the opposition from organizing large protests or violent responses to the results.

Tens of millions of people went to the polls last week. Voting was extended a second day due to difficulties getting ballots to some areas and other concerns involving the process.

According to various reports, people stood for hours in the hot sun for an opportunity to vote, some having crossed arduous terrain to reach polling stations.

Ekstrand has posted several links to stories providing analysis of the election and possible results. Click here to learn more.

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