U.S. sends military to Africa amid DR Congo post-election tension

CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO

The US House foreign affairs committee has urged authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to ensure votes are counted transparently, saying Sunday's presidential election had been "neither free nor fair".

Trump said the troops "will remain in the region until the security situation ... becomes such that their presence is no longer needed", and that he may deploy additional forces to Gabon "if necessary".

Sunday's vote is meant to lead to Congo's first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence. The elections were scheduled for 2016 but postponed for two years following violence in the capital of Kinshasa and confusion about the size of the voting population.

Final results are expected on January 15 and the next head of state will be sworn in on January 18.

The United States has called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) Electoral Commission to release accurate results of Sunday's general election in the country, warning against manipulation.

The cities' residents can vote in March, months after Congo's new president is set to be inaugurated on January 18.

The statement also refers to the election observers the National Episcopal Electoral Conference of Congo (Cenco) and an alliance of citizens' observer missions, Symocel.

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The tensions come as global pressure is mounting on the government to release accurate election results.

The African Union, which deployed an 80-member team to monitor the vote, also said that respect for voters' wishes was "crucial".

The coalition "firmly deplores.the partisan, irresponsible and anarchic attitude of CENCO", said Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, an adviser to outgoing President Joseph Kabila and a spokesman for Kabila's hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

The poll is meant to lead to Congo's first democratic transfer of power, but the global community has raised concerns that a disputed result could cause unrest, as was the case after the 2006 and 2011 elections.

On Thursday, the United States called on CENI to publish accurate results and threatened sanctions against anyone who sought to undermine the process.

The UN Security Council was to meet behind closed doors on Friday to discuss the DRC, diplomats in NY said. No Western election observers were invited to watch the vote, which was meant to occur in late 2016, after Congo's government was annoyed at worldwide pressure amid concerns that Kabila was trying to stay in power. But opposition candidates Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu say there are widespread irregularities. And 23 per cent of its observers' reports noted that voting had to be suspended at some point because of troubles with voting machines.

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