Congo's Catholic bishops and US demand release of accurate election results

An electoral agent seals a ballot box in front of observers in Lubumbashi on December 30.

Goma, Congo (CNN)A prominent church group in the Democratic Republic of Congo suggested that it knows the winner of the December 30 vote to pick a successor for President Joseph Kabila, and called on the country's electoral commission to release the results "without delay."

The Catholic Bishops' National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) did not name the winner, but said in a statement Thursday that "data in its possession, extracted from vote counting reports from polling stations, designates the selection of one candidate as president."
CENCO said it had sent observers to polling stations and demanded that the country's National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to publish the result of Sunday's vote, which has been delayed from 2016, in the "respect of truth and justice."
    The US State Department also called on the commission to release accurate results from the election in a statement Thursday.
    "We strongly urge the CENI to ensure that votes are counted in a transparent and open manner, with observers present, and that the results reported by CENI are accurate and correspond to results announced at each of DRC's 75,000 polling stations," it read.
    Tensions continue to mount in DR Congo, formerly Zaire, as it looks to replace Kabila, who has ruled the country for nearly 18 years.
    The vote, already delayed for two years, was first slated for December 23 but then delayed by a week.
    CENI also postponed voting in three cities until March, citing an Ebola outbreak and potential militia violence, sparking protests in those areas.
    Improvised electoral agents count ballots after a symbolic vote on December 30, 2018, at Kalinda Stadium in Beni, where voting in the general election was postponed.