Election results in the Democratic Republic of Congo may be delayed because of a slow vote-counting process, according to the head of the electoral commission.
Corneille Nangaa told reporters in Kinshasa Thursday that officials have collected only about 20 percent of results from polling stations across the vast central African country, which lacks a well-developed road network. He said the system of manually collecting and compiling vote totals is not helping the process.
The electoral commission had planned to collect vote totals via the internet, but the system was abandoned in the face of opposition accusations that the system was vulnerable to fraud.
The commission is due to publish results by Sunday, with Congo’s new president set to be inaugurated on January 18th.
Pre-election opinion surveys indicated that opposition figure Martin Fayulu was the favorite to replace outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Kabila backed his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary, in the December 30th election.
Authorities in Congo have shut down internet access, in what they call an effort to shut down false election reports.
On Thursday, the Catholic Church in Congo said election results in its possession show that one candidate clearly won the poll – but did not say who. A senior church body called on the government to publish accurate results.
By law, only the electoral commission can announce election results in Congo.
Congo has never seen a peaceful transfer of power since winning independence from Belgium in 1960.
The current election was originally scheduled for 2016 but was delayed as President Kabila stayed in office past the end of his mandate, sparking protests that were crushed by security forces, leaving dozens dead.