Tense DRC Awaits Election Results

Posted December 6th, 2011 at 8:45 am (UTC-5)
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Fears of political unrest are mounting in the Democratic Republic of Congo as officials prepare to release full results from last week's presidential election.

Thousands of soldiers are patrolling streets in the capital, Kinshasa, as well as other cities across the country.

The results are due to be released by late Tuesday, although the Independent National Electoral Commission has said it may not make the deadline due to logistical problems.

The government has dispatched helicopters to remote parts of the vast central African country to collect ballots.

Election officials say more than two-thirds of ballots have been counted, putting President Joseph Kabila ahead of his main rival Etienne Tshisekedi by roughly 46 to 36 percent.

Both sides have hinted that violence could break out if they are not awarded victory.

Officials in the neighboring Congo Republic say thousands of people have arrived from the DRC to escape possible post-election unrest.

Authorities say most of the arrivals are from the DRC capital, Kinshasa, which sits across the Congo River from Brazzaville, and where the situation is especially tense.

The United Nations, European Union and African Union are appealing to Congo's people and political figures to remain calm and avoid bloodshed.

Last week's balloting was only the second free election since the African nation was torn apart by several years of warfare that ended in 2003.

Voting was supposed to last for one day but stretched into three because of ballot shortages and scattered incidents of violence.

Election observers noted the irregularities, and three opposition candidates called for the elections to be annulled.