US sends troops for possible 'violent' DRC vote protests

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Election observers in Congo have raised concerns about potential voting irregularities in the race to replace longtime President Joseph Kabila.

It not yet clear when the results would be ready, he said, adding: "It will not be possible to announce the results tomorrow".

"Those who undermine the democratic process, threaten the peace, security or stability of the DRC, or benefit from corruption may find themselves not welcome in the United States and cut off from the USA financial system". Western election observers were not invited to watch the vote.

According to a letter to the US Congress, Trump stated that the first members of this US contingent arrived in Libreville, Gabon, on January 2, to be "in position to support the security of US citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa".

Catholic bishops said they already knew who had won the election, based on results the National Episcopal Conference of Congo collected from the field.

"We have observed that the Congolese people have chosen a candidate as president of the republic", Donatien Nshole, secretary general of Cenco, told RFI's Sonia Rolley in an interview broadcast on Friday. Under Congo electoral laws, only Ceni is permitted to announce the victor of a presidential election.

The commission on Friday said the church's announcement could incite an "uprising".

Pre-election opinion polls showed Kabila's preferred candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, trailing the main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi.

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The long-delayed election is meant to lead to Congo's first democratic transfer of power, but Sunday's vote was marred by logistical problems and accusations from the opposition of fraud. His campaign manager, Pierre Lumbi, on Saturday accused the electoral commission of being "in the process of postponing the publication of the results".

At stake is a vast country rich in the minerals that power the world's mobile phones and laptops, yet desperately underdeveloped. Some 40 million people were registered to vote, though at the last minute about 1 million voters were barred by the electoral commission which cited a deadly Ebola virus outbreak in eastern Congo.

The US State Department spokesman, Robert Palladino, said in a statement: "There are moments in every nation's history when individuals and political leaders step forward and do the right thing".

Mr. Trump's announcement regarding US troops indicates the concerned with the safety of American officials and facilities in Congo, not with the electoral situation itself.

The internet remains blocked in the Central African country in an apparent attempt by the government to calm speculation.

It now faces mounting pressure from the European Union, the United States and others to restore the internet signal and keep the peace after a contentious and disorganised vote that the opposition said was fraudulent but that the government said was fair and went smoothly.

This version corrects the first name of electoral commission's rapporteur.