Congo vote count halted

congo kabila web AP Incumbent Congo President Joseph Kabila holds the Congolese flag as he takes the oath of office as he is sworn in for another term, in Kinshasa, Congo, last Tuesday.

Kinshasa - The electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has halted the vote count for parliamentary elections until experts arrive from the United States and Britain, it announced Monday.

The independent national electoral commission (CENI), which has registered many complaints regarding the presidential and parliamentary elections of November 28, said it did not know when these experts would come, or how many there would be.

“There has been a first meeting at the political level, with the ambassadors of the United States and Great Britain,” followed by a “technical” meeting with the UN mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), Jacques Djoli, vice-president of the CENI, told AFP.

“Discussions must continue. We hope that at the latest tomorrow or after tomorrow things will become clearer, because we already have results that need to be validated and a population that is awaiting the end of the process,” Djoli added.

The CENI suspended the compilation of results on December 21, faced with many claims of vote-rigging, and said it wished “to guarantee the transparency and credibility” of the process while waiting for “international technical support”.

Some 19 000 candidates were standing for the 500 seats in the National Assembly of the huge central African country, which in 2003 began to emerge from back-to-back wars that ravaged its mineral-rich territory and directly or indirectly claimed the lives of an estimated 3.9 million people, according to the International Rescue Committee and human rights organisations.

“We must work together to avoid the situation of incomprehension” that marked the presidential poll held the same day, Djoli said.

Outgoing President Joseph Kabila was declared the winner, with 48.95 percent of the votes, beating veteran opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi, who took 32.33 percent. Kabila was sworn back into office last Tuesday, while Tshisekedi, who strongly contests his defeat, had himself sworn in by his aides and followers at his Kinshasa home last Friday.

The results of the parliamentary polls are due to be announced on January 13. - Sapa-AFP


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