WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) released the following statement.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we implore officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo to adhere to the rule of law, refrain from violence, and respect the rights of the Congolese people enshrined in the constitution.  To avoid the destabilizing and tragic cycle of violence following both the 2006 and 2011 national elections, the Congolese government and the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) must act with the utmost transparency and professionalism.

“We are deeply concerned that the preliminary election results announced by CENI do not match the reported results collated on the ground by local election monitors from the Catholic Church who deployed over 40,000 short and long term observers in polling places across the country.  Our concern is compounded by the repeated delays, widespread reported irregularities, disenfranchisement of voters in key districts, allegations of fraud from local civil society groups, and a prohibition by President Kabila of credible international election observer groups like the Carter Center and the European Union.  We urge CENI to release disaggregated results of the December 30 vote by polling station, and work with local observer groups to verify the accuracy of the tally to ensure public confidence in the outcome.  Internet and SMS services should also be restored immediately as access to information is critical for the credibility of the ongoing electoral process. Those that wish to dispute the result of the election should lodge grievances through the appropriate legal channels, and discourage violence.

“With the second-largest and second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history ravaging eastern Congo, it is imperative that order is maintained so the country’s leaders can work with the international community to contain this scourge.  The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo have waited 58 years for a peaceful democratic transfer of power, and have sacrificed too much for this election result not to reflect their votes cast at the ballot box. Therefore, CENI must take all the necessary steps to ensure the legitimacy of this result.  The events in the coming days will have significant consequences for the stability of the Congo and the broader region for years to come.”