Thursday, 14 November, 2019

DR Congo's Tshisekedi: son, heir and president-elect

Delaying of DRC election results announcement increases likelihood of extension of president's mandate to March Congo braces for election results after commission meets overnight
Deanna Wagner | 10 January, 2019, 12:22

The son of Democratic Republic of Congo's veteran opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi has taken the prize that eluded his late father - the presidency. "These results have nothing to do with the truth of the ballot box".

"(But) Felix is more diplomatic, more conciliatory, more ready to listen to others". 80 per cent of the results had been compiled so far, according to a source at the electoral commission who spoke to RFI. Fayulu got 6.37 million ballots, while Shadary obtained 4.36 million, he said.

The Tshisekedi's victory is deeply controversial as pre-election polls had given outspoken opposition frontrunner Martin Fayulu, a respected former business executive, a healthy lead. The church replied by saying that only the release of false results would incite an uprising.

The announcement of DRC's 30 December election results will likely be delayed to March or April (while four excluded localities vote), effectively extending the administration of incumbent President Joseph Kabila through this period.

On Tuesday, Fayulu and six other presidential candidates issued a statement saying that "the electoral results can not be negotiated and under no circumstances will we or the Congolese people accept such results".

The vast, mineral-rich Central African country is choosing a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001.

On Tuesday, Mr Fayulu warned election officials not to "disguise the truth" as tensions continued to mount over the delayed result.

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The UDPS described Tshisekedi as the presumptive victor with Secretary General Jean-Marc Kabund saying, "the two personalities have an interest in meeting to prepare for a peaceful and civilized transfer of power".

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

If the Constitutional Court validates the result, it'll mark the first transfer of power by the ballot box since Congo gained independence from Belgium almost six decades ago.

The country's influential Catholic Church signaled last week that it knew who had won, having gathered data and recorded infringements of election rules on polling day. 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. The church has urged the commission to announce accurate ones.

Electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa has said authorities were aware that "this process has always been surrounded by distrust".

If confirmed, Mr Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the DR Congo gained independence.

A CENI source and a diplomat said they expected results to be announced later on Wednesday. The machines were the focus of much concern, with the opposition and observers saying they could open the door to manipulating results. As the electoral commission met this week, anti-riot police moved into place outside.