efe-epaAddis Ababa

The African Union (AU) urged the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to suspend the final proclamation of the results of the December 30 presidential elections because it has "serious doubts" about the provisional data, the organization said Friday.

At a meeting of African heads of state and government held late Thursday in Addis Ababa, they "concluded that there were serious doubts about the conformity of the provisional results" proclaimed by the Congolese Electoral Commission on January 10, which gave victory to the opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi.

"Therefore, the heads of state and government asked for the suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections," which was scheduled for Friday or Saturday, the AU said in a statement issued from its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

The leaders agreed to "urgently send a high-level delegation to the DRC" composed of the Union's current president, Rwandan leader Paul Kagame, other heads of state and government and the head of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

This delegation, the official note adds, will seek "to interact with all Congolese actors in order to reach a consensus on a way out of the post-electoral crisis in the country".

The decision came as a surprise because, to date, the AU had merely stated that it had "taken note" of the provisional results and had urged that peace be maintained, especially if appeals were filed.

The vote was marked by numerous technical failures and delays in the opening of schools in opposition fiefdoms.

If the transfer of power materialises, it would be the first peaceful transition in the DRC - with a history dotted with coups d'état, assassinations and civil wars - since its independence from Belgium in 1960.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and stands out for its enormous mineral resources, although that wealth has not lifted the majority of the population out of poverty.