The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Friday to discuss the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo as world powers awaited results.
France requested the meeting as the European Union and the African Union urged DR Congo authorities to respect the outcome of the December 30 vote.
Election results were initially scheduled to be released on Sunday but could be delayed.
During a nearly two-hour meeting, the council failed to agree on a press statement on the elections. Several countries including African nations said such a move was premature, diplomats said.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said following the meeting that “the consolidation of the results must continue with transparency” and that the results to be announced “must be consistent with the vote of the Congolese people.”
The council will hold a public meeting on Tuesday to again discuss the elections.
Western powers hope sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country will see its first peaceful change of the presidency since independence in 1960.
President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, did not run in the elections. A total of 21 candidates including Kabila’s handpicked successor, former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, are vying for the presidency.
The DR Congo’s influential Catholic Church, which had deployed thousands of election observers, declared on Thursday that it knew who had won from its own monitoring.
The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) urged election authorities to publish results “in keeping with truth and justice.”
South African Ambassador Jerry Matjila told reporters ahead of the meeting that the world must “be very, very patient” while vote-counting is underway.
Matjila, whose country is a leading member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that includes the DR Congo, appeared to downplay CENCO’s statement.
“The NGO can say what they say,” but South Africa “will wait… for those responsible for the elections to announce” the result, he said.
On Thursday, the United States called on the DR Congo to release “accurate” results and warned of sanctions against election violators.
Council members heard a report from Leila Zerrougui, who heads the UN mission in DR Congo, during the closed-door meeting.