KINSHASA, Congo – The Latest on Congo's presidential election (all times local):
The United States is urging Congo's government to release accurate results of its presidential election and warns that those who undermine the democratic process could face U.S. sanctions.
The State Department also says internet access must be restored and media must be allowed to report freely on the results of Sunday's election, which the U.S. calls one of the most important in Congo's history.
The statement late Thursday notes the reported troubles on election day and calls "unfortunate" the decision to bar some 1 million voters from participating because of a deadly Ebola virus outbreak.
The U.S. urges that results are counted transparently and with observers present so that the votes of millions of people "were not cast in vain."
The Catholic church in Congo says its data show a clear winner in Sunday's presidential election, and it calls on the electoral commission to publish the true results in "respect of truth and justice."
The church deployed some 40,000 electoral observers. Congo's electoral regulations forbid anyone but the electoral commission to announce results.
Observers have reported multiple irregularities as the country voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila.
The electoral commission's president on Thursday said it had collected results from about 20 percent of polling stations, while some Congolese expressed doubt that the first results would be released on Sunday as expected.
The internet remains blocked in the Central African country in an apparent attempt by the government to calm speculation.
The outage also hampers election observers' work.