The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Saturday, January 5, reportedly delayed the publication of election results until "next week" amid growing concerns of unrest. Provisional results were expected on Sunday, January 6. The postponement comes as the Catholic Church, which deployed hundreds of election observers and is considered a trusted monitor, identified opposition leader Martin Fayulu as the winner. Church officials reportedly indicated Fayulu had defeated Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, outgoing President Joseph Kabila's hand-picked successor, by a wide margin. The government rebuked the Church and stated such claims would insight a "popular revolt."
Meanwhile, the US military deployed roughly 80 troops to Gabon on Friday, January 4, due to the possibility of unrest. President Donald Trump indicated the troops could be dispatched to protect US installations in DRC if necessary. Protests and demonstrations are possible in the coming days and particularly following any announcement regarding results. Any political protests organized by opposition parties are likely to involve clashes with security forces. Telecommunication disruptions (e.g. internet and mobile service blackouts) are likely to persist at least until the publication of election results.
DRC held general elections on December 30 to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who is ineligible to run for another term. There were numerous allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation and several people were killed in election-related violence.
President Joseph Kabila, whose term ended in 2016 but who has remained in power amid repeated election delays, has endorsed Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as the candidate of the ruling FCC (Front Commun pour le Congo) coalition. Other main candidates include Felix Tshisekedi of the CACH (Cap pour le Changement) opposition coalition party and Martin Fayulu of the Lamuka opposition coalition.
Individuals in DRC are advised to monitor updates to the situation, avoid any public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, refrain from discussing political topics in public, adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and anticipate telecommunication disruptions and a heightened security presence.
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