The Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission may have to postpone publication of provisional results for a long-awaited presidential vote, the panel’s chairman said Thursday.
“We are working around the clock. We are doing our best to publish the results on January 6. But if we can’t, we can’t,” said Corneille Nangaa, head of the Independent National Election Commission (CENI).
The development came as the government has blocked the signal of a TV station seen as close to the opposition. Government spokesman Lambert Mende accused Canal Congo of announcing results of Sunday’s delayed presidential election before the official announcement.
The authorities have also cut the broadcasts of Radio France Internationale (RFI) and withdrawn the accreditation of its journalist Florence Morice, accusing her of violating electoral law.
“We are not going to let a radio station throw petrol on the flames at a time when we are waiting for the compilation of the provisional results,” Mende told journalists.
The move comes days after the internet was shut down nationwide. The DRC, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country and one of its most unstable, has been buffeted by political turbulence for the past two years.
President Joseph Kabila, 47, should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when his constitutionally-limited two terms in office expired.
He invoked a caretaker clause in the constitution to stay on but at the cost of protests that his forces ruthlessly crushed, leading to scores of deaths.
After three delays, the election for Kabila’s successor was held on Sunday. This was followed by the marathon task of counting the vote, amid suspicions by the opposition of a rigged outcome.
According to CENI’s timetable, provisional results are due to be published by January 6 — a goal that the commission had reaffirmed just on Tuesday.
Definitive results are due to be published on January 15, and the swearing-in of the new president three days later, according to this schedule. Nangaa said the big hurdle was compiling results by hand. -AFP and BBC