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US calls for transparency in DR Congo vote

A five-judge bench of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Constutional Court, is examining an appeal against contested results in the presidential election (AFP Photo/TONY KARUMBA) (AFP)

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday called for transparency as the Democratic Republic of Congo examines an appeal against election results, renewing a warning against undermining democracy.

As tensions mount over last week's election results, the United States toughened earlier language and said it "recognizes the legitimate concerns over the transparency of the electoral process."

"The United States supports the lawful right of candidates to file a legal challenge to the election results and urges the Constitutional Court to execute a lawful, fair and transparent process for resolving electoral disputes," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.

"The United States will hold accountable those who perpetrate election violence or undermine democratic processes," he said.

Official results released last week in sub-Saharan Africa's most vast country gave opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi a narrow edge over Martin Fayulu, a former oil executive.

Fayulu has accused Tshisekedi of an "electoral coup" through backroom dealing with President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the resource-rich but turbulent nation since 2001.

The Constitutional Court began Tuesday to examine Fayulu's appeal against the election results, which the influential Roman Catholic Church has also called into doubt.

Optimists have hoped that the election will mark the first peaceful transfer of power in the former Zaire since independence from Belgium in 1960.

But the election was marred by violence after months of unrest following Kabila's initial refusal to step down at the end of his term.