Preliminary results from Democratic Republic of Congo’s tumultuous presidential election will be delayed past Sunday’s deadline, the head of the election commission has said. The announcement on Saturday has prompted fears the vote result could be manipulated, with analysts saying prolonged uncertainty could trigger deadly clashes, similar to the violence that broke out in the central African country after the 2006 and 2011 elections. The commission, known as CENI, had received only 47 percent of vote tally sheets as of Saturday, its president, Corneille Nangaa, told the Reuters news agency. It not yet clear when the results would be ready, he said, adding: “It will not be possible to announce the results tomorrow.”
Nangaa said the delay was caused by logistical problems posed by the DRC’s size, with the country encompassing an area approximately as large as Western Europe.
The country’s powerful National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), which represents the country’s Catholic bishops, warned popular anger could result in the event the final result was not “true to the verdict of the ballot box”.
DR Congo’s powerful Catholic Church, which deployed more than 40,000 election observers, had said Thursday it knew who had won the vote but did not name him as the country’s electoral regulations forbid anyone but the electoral commission to announce results.