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Wednesday March 20th, 2019 1:40PM

The Latest: Western nations asks Congo for election data

By The Associated Press
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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The latest on Congo's presidential election (all times local):

10:45 p.m.

Western nations are asking Congo's electoral commission to release its voting data on Congo's presidential election in light of claims by the Catholic Church that its tallies show opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was not the winner.

The United States, Britain, France, Belgium and Germany requested the results during a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday on the results of the Dec. 30 election.

But electoral commission chief Comeille Nangaa Yobeluo said he can't give provisional statistics to any other body but Congo's constitutional court, which will hear any challenges to the results.

Yobeluo also asked the National Episcopal Conference, the Catholic church body, to submit its report on the monitoring of the election to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Russia, China and South Africa said the commission's declarations should be respected and it should not be subject to interference and pressure.

___

6:50 p.m.

The Catholic Church in Congo has asked the U.N. Security Council to call on the country's election commission to publish data from the polling and counting stations set up for a Dec. 30 presidential election.

Monsignor Marcel Utembi, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo or CENCO, said Friday that the commission's provisional announcement of opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi as the surprise winner didn't match the tally from the Catholic bishops group's monitoring of the vote.

Utembi told the Security Council in a video briefing from Kinshasa that publishing the election data would enable candidates to compare their numbers with the electoral commission's count.

He said: "This might dispel doubts among the population as to the outcome and may therefore set minds at rest."

Utembi said if there are challenges, CENCO will request that the Security Council ask key parties to "prioritize the path of truth and peace while awaiting the outcome."

___

6:20 p.m.

The head of Congo's electoral commission says the country is on the brink of "its first peaceful, civilized handover of power" since independence 60 years ago.

Comeille Nangaa Yobeluo told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the commission is waiting for final reports on the presidential election held Dec. 30. The commission announced opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi early Thursday as the surprise winner of the vote.

The runner-up, Martin Fayulu, says he plans to challenge the election results in court. At the U.N., the election commission's Yobeluo said any challenges would be handled by Congo's judicial bodies.

He said the Catholic Church challenged the outcome of the presidential elections held in 2006 and 2011 and it was "no surprise" the church was challenging new provisional results.

The church has said its election observers found another candidate, not Tshisekedi, won.

Yobeluo told the Security Council: "What is critical is that the results are within reach and now it is time...for the new authorities to be supported" by the international community.

___

3:40 p.m.

African regional organizations are "taking note" of Congo's disputed presidential election results and do not congratulate the officially declared winner.

The statements by the southern African and Great Lakes regional groups look forward to the release of the final results and call for calm in the vast country.

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu asserts he won 61 percent of the vote, citing election observers with the influential Catholic Church, and he says he will file a court challenge on Saturday morning.

He accuses outgoing President Joseph Kabila of making a backroom deal with the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

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2:30 p.m.

Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu asserts he won 61 percent of the presidential vote, citing Catholic Church election observers, and he says he will file a court challenge to the official vote results on Saturday morning.

Fayulu accuses outgoing President Joseph Kabila of making a backroom deal with the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

The influential Catholic Church has said its 40,000 election observers found a different winner.

An official with Fayulu's opposition coalition says Tshisekedi received just 18 percent of the vote, according to the church's findings.

___

2:10 p.m.

Spurned Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu says he will challenge the official results of the presidential election by releasing the results of the influential Catholic Church and its 40,000 vote observers, province by province.

Diplomats briefed on the church's results say they show Fayulu easily won.

Fayulu tells a crowd in the capital, Kinshasa, that his opposition coalition will release its own results as well.

He says that no one can steal what he calls "the people's victory."

Fayulu accuses outgoing President Joseph Kabila of making a backroom deal with the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

Some Fayulu supporters are singing that "if you don't proclaim Fayulu, we will kill each other."

Congo has been largely calm since results were announced early Thursday but some observers warn that a challenge to the results could bring unrest.

___

12:45 p.m.

Hundreds of supporters of spurned Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu are gathering in the capital to denounce what they call "the people's stolen victory."

A heavy police presence is on hand as Fayulu is expected to speak. He accuses outgoing President Joseph Kabila of making a backroom deal with the declared election winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

Fayulu has two days from the election announcement early Thursday to file a court challenge. The influential Catholic Church says its 40,000 election observers found a different winner, and diplomats briefed on its findings say Fayulu easily won.

Congolese face the extraordinary situation of an election allegedly rigged in favor of the opposition after Kabila's ruling party candidate did poorly.

One Fayulu supporter says that "change cannot be negotiated behind closed doors."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
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