Congo criticizes Catholic church over election statements

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The US military has deployed soldiers to Gabon amid fears of violent protests in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo after its presidential election.

United States Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Libreville, Gabon, to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"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 electoral commission's president said it had collected results from about 20 per cent of polling stations, while some Congolese expressed doubt that the first results would be released on Sunday as expected.

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

The election would be the first democratic transfer of power since the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

The cities' residents can vote in March, months after Congo's new president is set to be inaugurated on January 18.

It called on the election panel "to publish the election results in keeping with truth and justice", he said.

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President Joseph Kabila (47) should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when his constitutionally-limited two terms in office expired.

Pre-election polling showed Kabila's preferred candidate, ex-interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, trailing the main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, but both sides say they expect to win.

The worldwide community has raised concerns that a disputed result could cause unrest, as was the case after the 2006 and 2011 elections.

Echoing the DRC's Catholic Church in a statement issued Thursday, Robert Palladino, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, urged the DRC to release "accurate results" in a transparent way, calling on the country's government to remove restrictions on internet access and media.

The council will hold a public meeting on Tuesday to again discuss the elections.

Without explicitly revealing the person's identity, Father Donatien Nshole, a spokesman for CENCO, told reporters that "data in its possession from vote counting reports from polling stations designates the selection of one candidate as president".

"The United States stands by the millions of Congolese voters who went to the poll across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on December 30 to participate in presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly election".

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