The US Embassy in Kinshasa issued a warning for its citizens on Wednesday, January 9, ahead of the expected announcement of election results later Wednesday or on Thursday, January 10. US citizens were urged to ensure their passports were valid and to leave the country due to the risk of violence. The warning also advised citizens to ensure alternate communication plans were in place due to internet and telecommunication disruptions. Approximately 80 US soldiers were stationed in Gabon earlier this week to assist with potential evacuations.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), provisional general election results will be released on Wednesday, January 9, or Thursday, January 10, amid a heightened security presence and concerns for violence across the country. Riot police deployed to the CENI headquarters on Wednesday ahead of the announcement. Protests are to be anticipated following the announcement of the results along with a heightened security presence. 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.
Catholic Church officials, who deployed thousands of election monitors across the country, reportedly indicated Fayulu had defeated Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, outgoing President Joseph Kabila's hand-picked successor, by a wide margin. Definite results are due on January 15 with the presidential inauguration scheduled for January 18.
Individuals in the DRC are advised to monitor the situation, ensure travel documents are valid, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, refrain from discussing political topics in public, adhere to all instructions issued by their home government and local authorities, and anticipate telecommunication disruptions.
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