The Latest: Congo Catholic church warns of election uprising

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The Latest on Congo’s presidential election (all times local):

4:35 p.m.

The Catholic church in Congo is warning the country’s electoral commission that publishing untrue results of the presidential election could lead to a popular “uprising.”

The church’s letter to the electoral commission’s president comes a day before the expected announcement of the first, partial results of the Dec. 30 election. The international community has urged Congo to release accurate results.

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The church, a powerful voice in the heavily Catholic nation, earlier said its data show a clear winner. The church deployed some 40,000 electoral observers in all polling centers, but Congolese regulations say only the electoral commission can announce election results.

The commission on Friday said the church’s announcement could incite an “uprising.”

Congo’s ruling party, which backs candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, called the church’s attitude “irresponsible and anarchist.” Leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu has not commented.

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10:20 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump says military personnel have deployed to Central Africa in advance of possible “violent demonstrations” in Congo over results of Sunday’s presidential election.

Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says about 80 military personnel and “appropriate combat equipment” deployed to nearby Gabon to support the security of U.S. citizens and staffers and diplomatic facilities in Congo.

Trump’s letter says more military personnel will deploy as needed to Gabon, Congo or neighboring Republic of Congo.

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.

The powerful Catholic church has said its data show a clear winner, angering Congo’s ruling party.

First results are expected on Sunday.

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