The UN Security Council has postponed a key meeting on the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at South Africa’s request, after an announcement on the results was delayed, diplomats said.
The council was due to hold a public meeting Tuesday which is now expected to take place on Friday, according to council diplomats.
Last Friday, a closed-door council meeting was held at France’s request, but world powers failed to agree on a press statement ahead of the release of the results.
South Africa, along with Russia and China, argued strongly in favor of holding off on any action until the results were announced, diplomats said.
The election commission in Kinshasa was due to release the results on Saturday but it announced a delay until later this week, without specifying a date.
The United Nations looks forward to the “timely publication of the provisional results by the commission,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, suggesting that vote-counting should not drag on for too long.
Dujarric added that all players have a responsibility to “help maintain an environment free of violence” to ensure the peaceful conclusion of the vote “in a manner that reflects the will of the Congolese people.”
A little over half of the ballots have been counted since the December 30 polls, according to DR Congo’s election commission.
Western powers hope sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country will see its first peaceful change of the presidency since independence in 1960.
The delay in announcing the results has heightened fears of vote-rigging to hand victory to the ruling party candidate, former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.
President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, is not seeking re-election but there are fears he will maintain influence with Shadary at the presidency.
A total of 21 candidates are vying for the presidency including opposition leaders Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi.
South African Ambassador Jerry Matjila told reporters on Friday that the world must “be very, very patient” while vote-counting is under way and said his government would await an announcement from the election commission.
South Africa, a non-permanent council member, is a leading power in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that includes the DR Congo.