MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with World Senior Editor Mindy Belz.
MINDY BELZ, SENIOR EDITOR: Congo election results postponed—We start today in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where voters are still waiting for the results of the December 30th presidential election.
AUDIO: [Sound of man speaking in French]
In a televised news conference, the head of the country’s electoral commission called for patience. Government officials initially planned to release the vote totals last Sunday. Now the electoral commission says they won’t be ready until sometime next week.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office warned that further delay could lead to violence.
AUDIO: Intimidation and harassment against journalists, opposition candidates, and human rights defenders continues to take place. And this being a very sensitive, as I said, very tense period, we are concerned that these efforts to silence dissent could backfire considerably when the results are announced.
Opposition party supporters accuse the government of delaying the announcement because they don’t want to give up power.
In anticipation of violence, U.S. President Donald Trump mobilized about 80 military personnel and combat equipment in neighboring Gabon to protect American citizens and diplomatic facilities in Congo. The U.S. had already ordered non-emergency government employees and family members to leave the country ahead of the election.
Christmas terror averted in Egypt—Next we go to Egypt, where a policeman died while trying to diffuse a bomb outside a Cairo-area church on Saturday.
AUDIO: [Sound from outside church]
Members of the Orthodox Church celebrated Christmas on Monday. Police discovered the bomb while searching the bags of people trying to enter the church. The officer who died in the blast was a specialist in mine clearance. Two other officers suffered injuries.
AUDIO: [el-Sisi speaking and sounds of mass]
On Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi officially opened the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in the country’s new administrative capital. Coptic worshippers later celebrated Christmas Eve mass in the heavily guarded cathedral about 28 miles east of Cairo.
Later that day in the U.S., CBS ran a 60 Minutes interview with Sisi despite Egyptian requests not to air it. Speaking through a translator, Sisi confirmed counterterrorism cooperation with Israel.
He also denied accusations of human rights abuses.
AUDIO: We don’t have political prisoners, nor prisoners of opinion. We are trying to stand against extremists who impose their ideology on the people. Now they are subject to a fair trial. And it may take years, but we have to follow the law.
Despite Sisi’s denials, Human Rights Watch says Egypt has about 60-thousand political prisoners in detention.
Ukrainian church formally recognized—Now we go to Ukraine, where the newly authorized Orthodox Church of Ukraine held its first service this week.
AUDIO: [Sound from service]
Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide, recognized the new church’s independence on Sunday. The four-hour ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, formalized a split with the Russian Orthodox church.
AUDIO: [Poroshenko talking]
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed the decision as a liberation from, quote—“servitude to Moscow.”
The Russian church stands to lose up to 40 percent of its members and income. But more importantly, the split marks a political blow for the Moscow state church’s patron, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bulgarian evangelicals celebrate new bill—We end today in Bulgaria, where lawmakers recently voted to amend the country’s religious law. The changes did not include proposed restrictions that could have closed more than 100 Baptist and other evangelical churches. The vote followed seven weeks of protests and prayer vigils from the country’s non-Orthodox church-goers.
Elijah Brown is general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. He said, quote—“God has granted us a remarkable blessing, by allowing us to see the will of the political powers changed.”
That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Mindy Belz.