KINSHASA, DR CONGO (January 8, 2019) — Release of results in the Democratic Republic of Congo presidential elections has been delayed, raising concerns about the legitimacy of the results. The ruling party of current President Joseph Kabila supports the candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu has accused authorities of thwarting his bid.
Analysts say prolonged uncertainty could trigger violence in the country. In the wake of the elections in 2006 and 2011, deadly clashes broke out. According to news reports, Congolese security forces violently shut down protests that erupted on December 27 when the election was postponed. The government has also shut down internet access and expelled foreign journalists from the country.
Observers had hoped that this election would be the country’s first peaceful transition of power. In 1961, the first democratically elected leader of DRC, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated, one year after the country gained independence from Belgium.
The Congo Covenant Church operates in the northwest region of the country. So far, that area has remained peaceful.
Election results were to be released last Sunday, but the head of the election commission announced the delay on Saturday, saying that the commission had been able to count only half of the ballots due to logistical issues. Although the country is rich in minerals, a long history of oppression and manipulation by foreign powers has rendered DR Congo one of the poorest countries in the world.
The Catholic Church, which is a powerful force in the country, deployed more than 40,000 election observers and announced on Thursday that it had identified the winner of the vote. Only the electoral commission is legally allowed to release the results. No date has been set for that announcement.