Church warns against rigging DR Congo’s elections
The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has warned the Election Commission against rigging the election results that is supposed to be announced Sunday 6th January, after the electoral commission delayed the announcement of the results for a few more days. Donatien Nshole, the Secretary General of the Bishops’ conference, CENCO, said on Thursday 3rd January, that the December 30 polls have already shown a clear winner.
The Catholic Church which had sent in about 40, 000 electoral observers across the country to monitor the elections, said the electoral commission must “respect of truth and justice” and publish the actual results.
In a swift reaction, the Electoral Commission, in a statement by the commission’s president, Corneille Nangaa, condemned the church’s warning saying it was likely to incite public protests when the results are eventually released. “The announcement of voting trends by Priest Nshole is likely to brainwash the population while preparing an insurrection that CENCO alone will be responsible for,” Nangaa said. The commission further accused the church of violating electoral regulations by making the statement.
Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, adviser to President Joseph Kabila and a spokesman to the ruling party said it “firmly deplores…the partisan, irresponsible and anarchic attitude of the Catholic Church, saying the Church’s warning “seriously violates not only the constitution but also the electoral law.”
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, Joseph Kabila’s sponsored candidate, had already said he was winning the election though polls has indicated that Martin Fayulu, the opposition candidate, was ahead in the polls.
The government had blocked all internet services prior to the elections on the excuse that online and fake results could be published to generate chaos.
The United States had warned the country’s government and politicians and expressed its concern over the internet blockade. “This being a very sensitive, a very tense period, we are concerned that these efforts to silence dissent could backfire considerably when the results are announced,” a spokesperson for the UN human rights office, Ravina Shamdasani, said on Friday. The U.S. also expressed its concern over the intimidation of journalists, observers and rights activists. “We are watching carefully, and we are calling on all sides to refrain from the use of violence.”
The White House however said on Friday, that it has deployed 80 military personnel “to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa,” in anticipation of possible “violent demonstrations” which may follow Sunday’s presidential elections results announcements.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos