|Churches of all denominations have been praying for peace ahead of the expected election results [AFP]
Opposition parties in Democratic Republic of Congo have rejected partial results released by the electoral commission giving incumbent President Joseph Kabila an early lead in the vote count from the November 28 presidential election.
In a joint statement signed by major parties, including that of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the opposition on Saturday cited irregularities and said the electoral commission was "psychologically preparing the population for fraud".
"As a consequence, we reject these partial results and consider them null and void," the opposition said in a statement.
It added that the manner the commission was releasing the results was illegal.
The opposition also called for mediation by other African leaders, but rejected forming a government of national unity with Kabila.
Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege reported from Kinshasa that all 10 opposition presidential candidates had rejected the partial results.
She also said people were questioning why early results where not released from capital Kinshasa, despite 62 million votes being cast there.
"What's the opposition is saying is that these results are being released in a selective manner … the results that have been released are only coming areas where the incumbent is popular," she said.
"The electoral authority, according to them, is basically in cahoots with the incumbent, and basically trying to steal this election."
Stopping the train
Catholic bishops in the country sounded the alarm over the political situation on Sunday, saying it was like "a train going toward a wall" as the country awaits election results.
"We have the impression that in the current situation, the image we've given is that of a high-speed train going straight toward a wall," Bishop Nicolas Djombo, president of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo, told a press conference in Kinshasa.
"We call on all political actors, on all leaders to brake the train, which risks going straight into the wall."
The Church deployed some 30,000 observers to monitor the elections, covering 24 percent of the almost 64,000 polling centres.
Djombo said that despite incidents of "irregularities, fraud attempts and violence," the elections had been credible overall.
While rejecting the results, Tshisekedi, the leader of the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), issued a warning to Kabila and the chief of the National Electoral Commission (CENI), Daniel Ngoy Mulunda.
Partial results released by CENI on Friday showed Kabila with 52 per cent of valid votes to 34 per cent for Tshisekedi, but the count included more of the incumbent's traditional strongholds than his main rival's.
"I'm warning Mr Ngoy Mulunda that the UDPS not only rejects these results, but warns Mr Ngoy Mulunda and Mr Kabila to respect the will of the Congolese people in publishing the results that will follow," he said.
"I'm going to say that, if they don't, they risk committing suicidal acts. I call all our people to stay vigilant so that if needed they can execute the orders I will give them," he added.
UDPS Secretary General Jacquemain Shabani Lukoo said that the government risked sparking violence over the alleged massive fraud.
"If they carry on like this there will be trouble, that's for sure, we will not let this lie," he said.
The elections are DR Congo's second since back-to-back wars from 1996 to 2003. Fears of post-poll violence are running high after a campaign marred by deadly police crackdowns on opposition rallies and a series of clashes between Kabila's and Tshisekedi's supporters.
On Sunday, text messaging services (SMS) on cellphone networks in Kinshasa were disrupted, in a move many see as a government attempt to control attempts by the opposition to organise protests against the results.
Telephone service operators have claimed that the outage is a result of a system failure.
A source at the interior ministry, however, told the AFP news agency on Saturday that the government had ordered cellphone operators to block texting services indefinitely "because of the diffusion of false results".