Catholic Churches In DRC Demand Independent Inquiry Before Accepting Election Results

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The Catholic Bishops Conference and Protestant churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have demanded an independent inquiry into irregularities and alleged legal violations observed during December general elections.

According to the election Commission CENI, said the presidential election was won by incumbent president Tshisekedi with more than 73% of the votes.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the CENCO-ECC Catholic and Protestant churches said “the results of the presidential and legislative vote would only be acceptable if an inquiry was set up.”

The groups had monitored the polls with their thousands of independent observers on and after election day.

Hours-long delays, malfunctioning machines, and other issues led to an unscheduled extension of voting beyond Dec. 20 – something local observers and civil society organizations have called illegal — and parts of the country were still casting ballots five days after election day.

The logistical problems included many polling stations being late in opening or not opening at all. Some lacked materials, and many voter cards had smudged ink that made them illegible.

A large group of opposition candidates said the election was fraudulent and they have rejected the provisional results.

Two formal appeals against the provisional presidential results have been filed before Congo’s constitutional court which must assess them ahead of a Jan. 12 deadline to announce the final results.

The election had more than a 40% turnout with some 18 million people voting according to election chief Denis Kadima.