The United States has demanded that the Democratic Republic of Congo release “accurate” election results, warning of sanctions on anyone who undermines the fledgling democracy.
The US said on Thursday that DRC authorities should remove restrictions on internet access and media and urged the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) to count votes transparently.
“On December 30, millions of Congolese went peacefully to the polls. Now is the time for CENI to affirm that these votes were not cast in vain by ensuring the accurate reporting of election results,” State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement.
The election could mark the first peaceful transition of power in the war-torn DRC, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country geographically, since independence in 1960.
But the election was delayed several times as President Joseph Kabila held on to power rather than stepping down at the end of 2016.
Authorities crushed protests and voting was further postponed in areas hit by violence.
“There are moments in every nation’s history when individuals and political leaders step forward and do the right thing. This is one of those moments for the DRC,” Palladino said.
“Those who undermine the democratic process threaten the peace, security or stability of the DRC, or benefit from corruption may find themselves not welcome in the United States and cut off from the US financial system,” he said.
The election commission is set to unveil provisional results on Sunday, followed by definitive results on January 15.