Presidents of Zambia and South Africa hold talks over DRC

A Congolese citizen casting his ballot using an electronic voting machine

Announcing the delay in election results, electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa said authorities were aware that "this process has always been surrounded by distrust". His rival, Martin Fayulu, labelled the outcome "an ugly swindle".

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian became the first foreign political leader to call for transparency about the electoral process.

In November 2018, following three days of talks in Geneva to bridge rifts in the opposition, seven opposition leaders picked Fayulu as their joint candidate for the elections to replace Kabila.

Prior to Wednesday's electoral announcement, fears of violence had been escalating as dragged out vote-counting continued after the December 30 elections, with the official electoral body CENI blaming the delay on manual vote counting despite Sunday being the official day for the results to be announced. Stability in the vast... Opposition and activist groups had urged people to be ready to protest on the streets if the results didn't match "the truth of the ballot boxes".

The presidents of Zambia and South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and Edgar Lungu respectively - have held talks about the situation in the Democratic Republic Congo.

The French government took a strong stance on the publication of results that conform to the reality of the polls. The son of late opposition leader Etienne, who pursued the presidency for many years, he startled Congolese shortly before the election by breaking away from an opposition effort to unite behind a single candidate.

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The influential Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 observers during the vote and has been monitoring the polls, warned that there had been irregularities.

Kabila, 47, was due to step down two years ago but clung to office, sparking widespread protests that were repressed at the cost of scores of lives.

A CENI source and a diplomat said they expected results to be announced later on Wednesday.

"If we find that the results of the catholic church are not the same as those of the electoral commission we will know there was a change of plan", said Stephanie Wolters at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies. The Kinshasa lawmaker and businessman said his coalition would release its own figures if the announced results don't conform to the will of the Congolese people.

Some observers have suggested that President Joseph Kabila's government sought to make a deal as hopes faded for a win for ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

On Tuesday, Fayulu and six other presidential candidates issued a statement saying that "the electoral results can not be negotiated and under no circumstances will we or the Congolese people accept such results".

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