U.S. sends troops ahead of possible Congo election protests

U.S. sends troops ahead of possible Congo election protests

It made the appeal just hours after the head of the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) said logistical problems in collecting election data meant that provisional results - due by tomorrow - may be delayed.

The combat troops and supporting military aircraft would provide security to USA citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, should the need arise.

Own Correspondent|The UN Security Council was on Friday forced to hold an urgent closed-door meeting on the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, diplomats said.

Congo faces what could be its first democratic, peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960, but election observers and the opposition have raised concerns about voting irregularities.

In a separate statement, Congo's ruling party called the church's attitude "irresponsible and anarchist".

First results are expected on Sunday.

Global pressure is growing on Congo to restore internet service - blocked in an apparent attempt to calm election speculation - and release accurate election results, with the United States warning that those who undermine the democratic process could face US sanctions.

Mende said the government had cut the Internet until the election results were published to stop the opposition, journalists and others on social media from publishing fake results that could spark violence.

The coalition "firmly deplores.the partisan, irresponsible and anarchic attitude of CENCO", said Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, an adviser to outgoing President Joseph Kabila and a spokesman for Kabila's hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

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The European Union called on Friday for voting results in the Democratic Republic of Congo to reflect the people's will at what it called a "historic moment toward a democratic transition".

Pre-election opinion polls showed Shadary trailing Fayulu and Tshisekedi, who have been buoyed by rising dissatisfaction with Kabila's tenure.

The statement also refers to the election observers the National Episcopal Electoral Conference of Congo (Cenco) and an alliance of citizens' observer missions, Symocel.

During a almost two-hour meeting, the council failed to agree on a press statement on the elections.

Friday's meeting underscored that the council is keeping close watch on the electoral process, French Ambassador François Delattre said.

A marathon vote count is underway in a climate of deep suspicion about fraud in a country scarred by political turmoil and haunted by memories of violence.

Meanwhile, vote counting continued slowly by hand at more than 175 compilation centres around the country.

Kabila's government refused to accredit election monitors from the European Union and the USA -based Carter Center, which said there were widespread irregularities in the 2011 election.

Nshole spoke at a presentation of a preliminary report on the election by CENO's monitoring team, the Electoral Observation Mission of the Peace and Justice Commission.

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