Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Opposition's Tshisekedi declared winner of DRC presidential poll

Martin Fayulu a former oil tycoon says authorities must announce results to avoid further tension. /COURTESY Martin Fayulu a former oil tycoon says authorities must announce results to avoid further tension. /COURTESY
Pablo Mccormick | 10 January, 2019, 12:21

Tshisekedi, 55, hopes the elections will hand him the presidential prize that eluded his late father Etienne, who founded the DRC's mainstream opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), in 1982. "Felix is more diplomatic, more conciliatory, more ready to listen to others".

The opposition was weakened by internal arguments and the exclusion by the electoral commission of two political heavyweights: Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former warlord, and Moïse Katumbi, a popular tycoon.

Mr Nangaa, who has given no date for when provisional or final results would emerge, has said people need to be patient amid rising tensions over the delay.

Kabila's choice of successor fuelled accusations that the long-time leader - concerned about possible retribution - would use Shadary to protect his interests after the vote.

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Supporters of Fayulu, who had a healthy pre-election poll lead, have voiced suspicions that Kabila may be looking to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with Tshisekedi if Shadary loses.

Hours before the results were released, the Catholic organization urged CENI to honor "its duty to publish only results from the ballot boxes". Kabila adviser Kikaya Bin Karubi, however, denied any such contact.

Since the December 30 vote, the government has cut internet service in this vast Central African country to prevent speculation on social media about who won and blocked some radio stations.

The Kabila family has led Congo for more than 20 years.

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Runner-up Fayulu dismissed the results, however, claiming that there had been an "electoral coup". Western pressure likely has little effect, however, as Congo's government has rejected what it calls interference and expelled the European Union ambassador days before the vote. CENI has come under pressure from the DRC Catholic Church's National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (Conférence Épiscopale Nationale du Congo: CENCO), which mounted its own 40,000-strong electoral observer mission and parallel vote tabulation operation. But one Congolese election observer group, Symocel, on Tuesday reported "major irregularities" including the disappearance of envelopes containing results from almost 120 polling stations in Kinshasa, an opposition stronghold.

Long-delayed and widely anticipated, the election had the potential to be either the mineral-rich central African country's first peaceful democratic transfer of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, or a trigger-point for renewed violence.

Congo's ruling party responded angrily, calling the church's announcement "anarchist", and the electoral commission accused the church of "preparing an uprising". The machines were the focus of much concern, with the opposition and observers saying they could open the door to manipulating results.

"We will react according to truth, there is no other option", he said, if the election results that are announced do not confirm with the church's findings. As the electoral commission met this week, anti-riot police moved into place outside.

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