Catholic church challenges Congo’s surprise election result

11 January, 2019, 06:04 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Martin Fayulu a former oil tycoon says authorities must announce results to avoid further tension. /COURTESY

But bitterness among supporters of runner-up Martin Fayulu and speculation about a deal between the provisional victor Felix Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila will raise questions of legitimacy, fuelling volatility, commentators said.

Felix Tshisekedi was declared the victor of the country's long-delayed elections.

Pre-election polling by New York University's Congo Research Group recorded Shadary trailing the opposition by a large margin - with Tshisekedi topping a survey in October and Fayulu commanding a strong lead two days before the vote.

Corneille Nangaa, the president of the election commission (CENI), told a news conference at about 0200 GMT that Tshisekedi won with 38.57 percent of more than 18 million ballots cast.

Fayulu, who vowed in his campaign to to clean up Congo's widespread corruption, received more than 6 million votes, or 34 percent, of the electoral commission's results.

Felix Tshisekedi, pictured arriving for a meeting between CENI, SADC and other presidential candidates in Kinshasa, one day ahead of the general elections in December, has been declared victor.

There are fears the result could trigger unrest, with at least two people killed in the western city of Kikwit on Thursday.

Election officials announced that opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi won the election.

Mr Fayulu's supporters say this backs their suspicion that Mr Tshisekedi has cut a power-sharing deal with Mr Kabila.

On the other, Tshisekedi is vulnerable to a legal challenge over the validity of his Belgian diploma, which is alleged to be fake - holding a diploma is a requirement for anyone running as a presidential candidate in DR Congo.


After an election that went ahead relatively peacefully, the outcome marks the first time in DRC's history since independence in 1960 that power will change hands through an electoral process.

Fayulu was backed by two prominent foes of Kabila, both of whom were barred from standing in the election.

Some observers have suggested President Joseph Kabila's government sought to make a deal as hopes faded for a win for ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. He added: "The Catholic Church of Congo did its tally and announced completely different results". Kabila has ruled since 2001 in the troubled nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world and has amassed vast wealth.

In some regions, gatherings of three or more people have been outlawed.

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said he "takes note" of the announcement and urged all parties to "refrain from violence and ... to channel any electoral disputes through the established institutional mechanisms". "This is the beginning of national reconciliation". This is an ugly swindle of [DRC's Electoral Commission President] Mr. Nangaa and his political camp.

Many Congolese had objected to Shadary, suspecting that Kabila would continue to rule from behind the scenes.

He blamed the delay on opposition parties' insistence that results be counted by hand and not transmitted electronically via voting machines, which Congo used for the first time.

On Thursday, Tshisekedi paid his respects to Kabila, whom he described as "an important partner ... in democratic transition in our country". Long in the shadow of his father, the late opposition leader Etienne, he startled Congo a year ago by breaking away from the opposition's unity candidate, Fayulu, to stand on his own.

Sarah Gardner, who works with the project's investigative initiative called The Sentry, said: "I think if that process goes forward, there needs to be global support for full transparency and statements to that effect".

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