DRC Catholic Church rejects vote result

11 January, 2019, 12:30 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Delaying of DRC election results announcement increases likelihood of extension of president's mandate to March

The Congolese capital of Kinshasa is reported relatively quiet early Thursday morning as the nation's electoral commission waited until the wee hours to declare opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the provisional victor of last month's long-delayed presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The church, which has long pressed for a fair election in the largely Catholic nation, refused to name its "clear victor".

Diplomatic sources said the tallies pointed to Fayulu as the victor, although the church via its Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) itself did not name a presumed victor.

But his opposition rival Martin Fayulu immediately cried foul, branding the results "an electoral coup".

The country is in flux over a thrice-delayed presidential vote, with the announcement of official results now postponed, stoking suspicions of rigging.

Mr Fayulu admitted such a challenge would have little chance of success as the court was "composed of Kabila's people" but he said he did not want to give his opponents any chance to say he had not followed the law.

The constitutional court has 14 days to validate them.

"It is important that any disagreement over the proclaimed results, notably that they did not reflect voters' wishes, be resolved peacefully, by turning to the relevant laws and through political dialogue between the parties involved", he said.

Two diplomats said all major election observation missions, including those of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, showed similar results to those of the Catholic Church. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Long in the shadow of his father, the late opposition leader Etienne, Tshisekedi startled Congo previous year by breaking away from the opposition's unity candidate, Fayulu, to stand on his own.

The worldwide community has not congratulated Tshisekedi on his victory. "In 2018 victory won't be stolen from Martin Fayulu".

Nangaa said Tshisekedi had received more than 7 million votes, compared to about 6.4 million for Fayulu and about 4.4 million for Kabila's hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Given that Kabila was reluctant to leave office after the Constitution required that he do so, many believed he would ensure that Shadary was elected.

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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the results "are the opposite to what we expected".

Britain's foreign secretary said he was "very concerned about discrepancies" in Congo's results, adding that the United Nations Security Council would discuss the matter on Friday.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, takes cognizance of the provisional results of the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

The centre monitored the elections and has since announced that its tally differs from the official results as released by the election commission.

Scores of people in the capital, Kinshasa, danced after the election results were announced long after midnight, but observers waited to see how other Congolese would respond.

Burdened by a history of bloodshed, DRC has never had a peaceful handover of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. Dozens of polling centers opened hours late as materials went missing.

The government has cut internet service since the day after the election to prevent speculation on social media about who won, and blocked some radio stations.

Resident John Kabamba says it "may be a message that the publication (of the results) won't meet the expectations of the Congolese people".

Corruption fighter Mr Fayulu finished second in the vote.

Kabila has ruled since 2001 in the troubled nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world and has amassed vast wealth.

Mineral-rich DRC has been in the grip of a two-year crisis over the succession of Kabila, who announced last year he would finally step down after almost two decades in power.

Asked whether the president-elect is a professional qualified to be President, Mr. Apea argued: " Looking at the past leaders that Africa has had, together with the many broken promises they have uttered, Felix Tshisekedi, is overqualified".

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