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Congo Election Results Delayed Again


Supporters of Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi run as riot police charge with tear gas and live fire outside their candidate's headquarters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 8, 2011

Supporters of Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi run as riot police charge with tear gas and live fire outside their candidate's headquarters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 8, 2011

Election officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo have again delayed the results of presidential and legislative elections. Opposition supporters are rejecting partial returns that show President Joseph Kabila heading for reelection.

Electoral Commission head Daniel Ngoy-Mulunda says results will be postponed for a third day because officials have not completed comparing vote totals sent electronically with those recorded on tally sheets at each polling station. He said it is a huge job that must be done right to assure the credibility of the totals announced.

Results from last month's presidential and legislative elections were to be announced on Tuesday. That was postponed until Thursday and has now been pushed back to Friday.

With results from nearly 90 percent of precincts released, President Kabila looks set to win a second term as he is leading his closest rival by more than two million votes. Analysts say the wait for complete results is less about the final figures and more about how supporters of opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi will react.

There were many problems with these elections, including the late delivery of ballots that stretched voting to a third day in some areas.

The United States and Britain are urging the Electoral Commission to publish the results polling station by polling station, so parties can compare those figures with what was reported on the ground. Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell told parliament that results broken down by polling stations will help facilitate what he called “any necessary appeals.”

Human Rights Watch says at least 18 people were killed and 100 others were injured in violence leading up to the November 28 vote.

Opposition leaders have promised mass protests, if the electoral commission declares President Kabila the winner.

The International Crisis Group says the DRC must try to salvage what it calls “a badly flawed process." In a written statement, the Brussels-based group said, “counting has been as unruly as voting, and dangerously opaque. Criteria for disqualifying ballots are unclear, with Kinshasa, an opposition stronghold, disproportionately affected. Most significantly,” the group says, “the electoral commission has refused to publish results by polling station, which would permit their verification by opposition parties and observers."

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