US sends troops for possible 'violent' Congo vote protests

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U.S President Donald Trump has said he ordered the deployment of U.S military to Gabon amid fears of violent unrest in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after both opposition and ruling party candidates claimed victory in presidential election that ended on Sunday.

The head of the commission Corneille Nangaa said on Saturday that less than half of the votes had been counted and as such it was not possible to declare any victor.

The Congolese election commission said logistical problems may force it to postpone publication of provisional results from Sunday's vote, which also included elections to the national parliament and provincial assemblies. The government of President Joseph Kabila, which is backing Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to succeed him, says the elections were free and fair.

Internet and text messaging services were cut off the day after the election in an apparent effort by the government to prevent social media speculation about the results.

The electoral commission must "publish in all responsibility the results of the election in respect of truth and justice", Donatien Nshole, secretary-general of the conference, told journalists in Kinshasa.

"The Democratic Republic of Congo is at a historic moment toward a democratic transition", the European Union said on Friday, urging the authorities "to ensure the upcoming results conform with the Congolese people's vote".

The December 30 vote saw 21 candidates run to replace President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the vast, conflict-ridden country for nearly 18 years.

But the scant opinion polls that have been conducted made Martin Fayulu - until recently a little-known legislator and former oil executive - a clear favorite.

But diplomats and other election observers have said that the vast country was poorly prepared for the vote despite repeated delays.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which isn't adjacent to Gabon but is separated by the Republic of the Congo, held on December 30 its first multi-party elections since 1960 and only the second in the nation's history, having only gained independence from Belgium in 1960. "It is important that SADC respects the position of the Congolese people in these elections", he said.

The commission's rapporteur, Jean-Pierre Kalamba, said "we will see tomorrow" and that 44 percent of the results had been compiled.

The electoral commission responded by saying the announcement could incite an "uprising".

The African Union election observation mission reported that there were malfunctions of voting machines, late availability of electoral lists and up to five-hour delays for poll openings.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Trump said the first of about 80 military personnel arrived in Gabon on Wednesday in case they are needed to protect United States citizens and diplomatic facilities in Congo's capital Kinshasa.

Kabila, who took office in 2001 after his father was assassinated, is constitutionally barred from serving three consecutive terms but has hinted he may run again in 2023.

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