News / Africa

Congo Voters Await Final Results From Presidential Election

Congolese riot  police  in an armored vehicle drive the streets of  Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo,  December 7,  2011.
Congolese riot police in an armored vehicle drive the streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 7, 2011.

Electoral officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to release complete results of presidential and legislative voting Thursday. Opposition supporters are rejecting partial returns that show President Joseph Kabila heading for re-election.

When these results were first expected Tuesday, Congolese security was out in force. Shops were closed. The streets of the capital were near deserted.

But following a two-day postponement because of delays in compiling totals from more than 63,000 polling stations, Kinshasa is far less tense as it awaits results Thursday.

Riot police have been withdrawn from the National Assembly. Buses and taxis jam neighborhoods near the airport. Women sell mangoes outside a Catholic school that is getting a fresh coat of yellow paint. City workers plant grass along Avenue 30 June.

With results from nearly 90 percent of precincts already released, President Kabila looks set to win a second term as he is leading his closest rival by more than two million votes. So this 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 this vote, 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 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.

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