Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi wins DR Congo election

Erika Holt
January 12, 2019

The outcome of DR Congo's tempestuous presidential election appeared to be headed for the courts Friday after the poll's runner-up said he would demand a recount.

Supporters of the surprise Democratic Republic of Congo presidential victor have celebrated in the capital as the rival opposition candidate denounced the result as fraudulent.

Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the largest opposition party, has been declared the victor of the long-delayed presidential election to replace Joseph Kabila. He added: "The Catholic Church of Congo did its tally and announced completely different results".

The other main opposition candidate, former oil executive Fayulu took 34.8 per cent, official results showed. Last week, the Catholic Church said their observations showed a clear victor. We also applaud the work done by the monitoring missions of regional organizations, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, and Congolese civil society.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian dismissed Tshisekedi's victory as "not consistent" with the actual results, indicating that Fayulu had won, while the US State Department demanded "clarification" over the result and urged "all stakeholders to remain calm".

Catholic leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday said Tshisekedi's surprise win - declared pre-dawn by the mineral-rich nation's electoral commission - did not match tallies compiled by 40,000 monitors deployed by the church for the 30 December election.

Tshisekedi, who received more than 7 million votes, or 38 per cent, had not been widely considered the leading candidate and is relatively untested.

Antoine Tshisekedi, the leader of DRC's main opposition party was declared the victor of the December 30, 2018, presidential elections in the early hours of January 10, 2019.

Tshisekedi's victory was quickly contested by opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who charged the results were rigged.

Thursday's pre-dawn announcement brought thousands of Tshisekedi supporters onto the streets in celebration, while others who had backed Fayulu came out to protest.

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Fayulu said the naming of Tshisekedi was the next in a line of stolen elections.

The election's supervisors had faced mounting pressure at home and overseas to publish the results of the December 30 poll after repeated delays stoked fears for the giant country's stability.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an election is not a single decisive event, but just one part of a never-ending struggle to gain and keep power in which living to fight another day is as important as landing a knockout punch.

Known to his friends as "Fatshi", the portly 55-year-old is set to replace President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the volatile, poverty-stricken nation with an iron fist since 2001.

Many noted that Fayulu's campaign suffered significantly more harassment than Tshisekedi's, and that the latter's rhetoric towards erstwhile enemies underwent a dramatic change in recent days.

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.

Among the challenges he would face is an Ebola outbreak in the east of the country.

Kabila, 47, was due to step down two years ago but clung on to office, sparking widespread protests that were repressed at the cost of scores of lives.

Mr Fayulu said he feared there would be violence if the electoral commission did not give the true figures "polling station by polling station" and that it was the right of all Congolese to demonstrate according to the law. "This is the beginning of national reconciliation".

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