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DR Congo Election: Catholic, Protestant churches demand inquiry before acceptance of results

Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi prepares to cast his vote at Kitambo Saint George polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023.   -  
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Samy Ntumba Shambuyi/AP

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The powerful Catholic bishops conference and Protestant churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have demanded an independent inquiry be opened into irregularities and alleged legal violations observed during December general elections.

The presidential election won by incumbent Felix Tshisekedi with more than 73% according to CENI the central African nation's election commission has been met with controversy..

In a joint statement on Thursday, the CENCO-ECC Catholic and Protestant churches said the results of the presidential and legislative vote would only be acceptable if an inquiry was set up. The groups had monitored the polls with their thousands of independent observers on and after election day.

Hours-long delays, malfunctioning machines, and other issues led to an unscheduled extension of voting beyond Dec. 20 - something local observers and civil society organizations have called illegal — and parts of the country were still casting ballots five days after election day. 

The logistical problems included many polling stations being late in opening or not opening at all. Some lacked materials, and many voter cards had smudged ink that made them illegible. A large group of opposition candidates say the election was fraudulent as a result and have rejected the provisional results.

Two formal appeals against the provisional presidential results have been filed before Congo's constitutional court which must assess them ahead of a Jan. 12 deadline to announce the final results.

The election had more than a 40% turnout with some 18 million people voting according to election chief Denis Kadima.

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