Congo’s Catholic church challenges surprise presidential election results

Geneva Stokes
January 11, 2019

Felix Tshisekedi, named as the surprise, provisional victor of last month's much delayed presidential vote, is the 55-year-old son of the country's most respected opposition leader.

An outspoken campaigner against Congo's widespread graft - it ranked 161th among 180 countries in Transparency International's latest index - Fayulu denounced the official results as "robbery".

Runner-up Martin Fayulu, the pre-election favourite, said the results announced on Thursday do "not reflect the truth of the ballots", urging the Congolese to "rise as one man to protect victory".

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.

Nshole's remarks were made a press conference during which he also remarked on the historic change brought about by the election.

"The delay in releasing the results of the elections can lead to suspicions and compromise the peace and stability of the country", President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu said in a joint statement.

Voters look for their names in the lists during Presidential and Legislative elections in in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (30 December 2018). "This is the beginning of national reconciliation".

The announcement of an opposition win was a shock as many had expected the results to be stacked in Shadary's favour, prompting heavy global pressure on Kinshasa to respect the wishes of the electorate.

The Catholic Church has since said the declaration did not match with their tallies. Fayulu, a former Exxon manager and Kinshasa lawmaker, accused the government of impeding his campaign by blocking flights and assaulting his supporters, which Kabila dismissed. The conclusions of 40,000 observers deployed by the church on the day of the election are that he won.

The elections were held on 30 December, but CENI last weekend said provisional results, expected on Sunday, would be held up because of logistical problems. Fayulu, by contrast, is backed by ex-rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba and former governor Moise Katumbi, two of Kabila's fiercest rivals. The United States threatened sanctions against officials who rigged the vote.

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The result if confirmed would create the first orderly transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

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. Anti-riot police with water cannon are outside the building.

Fayulu said the Congolese people were being cheated and called on people to push for his victory.

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

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

A two-year wait for a new leader is coming to an end in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but already a post-election crisis is brewing.

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".

As he cast his ballot, he accused Congo's government of deliberately creating a mess to spark a court challenge that could allow Kabila to extend his time in power.

Tshisekedi, 55, pledged to work closely with Kabila.

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