The U.S government has asked authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to restore internet access as well as the Electoral Commission to ensure that the vote counting is done in a transparent manner.
This comes five days after citizens in the DRC took to the polls to elect a new President that will succeed Joseph Kabila who has led the country for the last 17 years.
Vote counting continues but government has for the last four days blocked access to the internet and SMS services. Authorities say this is to prevent cases of misreporting of information which could fuel violence.
Now, the U.S government has issued a statement calling for transparency in vote counting as well as restoration of the internet access.
“As the Congolese people, the region, and the world await patiently for the results of these elections, the internet must be restored and the media allowed to report freely,” said Robert Palladino, the deputy spokesperson for the U.S State Department in a January 3 statement.
“We strongly urge the CENI to ensure that votes are counted in a transparent and open manner, with observers present, and that the results reported by CENI are accurate and correspond to results announced at each of DRC’s 75,000 polling stations”.
The U.S added that it was deeply concerned by the DRC’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) decision to deny accreditation to several international election observers and media representatives.
Palladino also noted the confusion on election day over the location of polling stations, the posting of voter lists, the late delivery of some election materials, and CENI’s unfortunate decision to cancel elections in Beni and Butembo in eastern DRC disenfranchised voters.
These challenges notwithstanding, he said, “millions of Congolese citizens turned out peacefully across DRC on election day to cast their ballots and make their voices heard” and that “CENI must now ensure that these voices and votes are respected”.
As Congolese and the world awaits the results expected on January 6, Washington DC has stressed that authorities in DRC must ensure the announced results align with votes cast by the Congolese people.
“As official results are tabulated and reported, we continue to urge DRC government officials, leaders of the DRC security forces, opposition party leaders, civil society representatives, and stakeholders from all sides to respect the law and reject violence,” the statement added.
Since independence in 1960, the DRC has never experienced a peaceful, democratic transfer of power.
As such, the U.S government described the Presidential election on December 30 as one of the most important elections in DRC history.
The Washington DC administration also threatened to hold accountable political leaders and individuals that will be found responsible for undermining democratic institutions and processes, threatening the peace, security, or stability of DRC or benefiting from corruption.
The statement added that such individuals will not be welcome in the United States and will be cut off from the U.S. financial system.