DRC’s Surprise Poll Result Could Face Court Challenge

Residents celebrate in Kinshasa after learning that opposition presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi had won the election.

Residents celebrate in Kinshasa after learning that opposition presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi had won the election.

Photo: Jerome Delay / Associated Press
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Residents celebrate in Kinshasa after learning that opposition presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi had won the election.

Residents celebrate in Kinshasa after learning that opposition presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi had won the election.

Photo: Jerome Delay / Associated Press Congo’s surprise election result could face court challenge 1  /  1 Back to Gallery

KINSHASA, Congo — Congo appeared ready to achieve its first peaceful transfer of power with the surprise victory Thursday of opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, despite clear signs that a rival opposition leader actually won in a landslide.

With no major protests in the capital and limited violence elsewhere in the vast Central African country, the population seemed to be choosing stability over credibility, accepting Tshisekedi’s win and the end to President Joseph Kabila’s long and turbulent rule.

But a court challenge to the results could spin the country into chaos, observers warned.

The influential Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 observers at all polling stations, said official results did not match its findings, and diplomats briefed on them said rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu won easily.

Fayulu alleges that Kabila engineered a backroom deal with the largely untested Tshisekedi to protect his power base in a country with staggering mineral wealth. An outspoken campaigner against Congo’s widespread graft — it ranked 161st among 180 countries in Transparency International’s latest index — Fayulu denounced the official results as “robbery.”

He called on people to “rise as one man to protect victory.”

As night fell, scores of police with automatic rifles and tear gas launchers were positioned along a road in Kinshasa leading to the Kingabwa neighborhood, a Fayulu stronghold. One vehicle was filled with military personnel in combat gear.

Congo’s population of 80 million remained largely calm. Some protest violence was reported in Kikwit, a Fayulu stronghold, where police said three people were killed. Police also confirmed “agitations” in Congo’s third-largest city, Kisangani, but said they were quickly brought under control.

It was not immediately clear whether Fayulu would challenge the election results in court. Candidates have two days after the announcement to file challenges and the constitutional court has seven days to consider them before results are final.

Tshisekedi, who received 38 percent of the vote according to official results, had not been widely considered the leading candidate.

Fayulu, a former Exxon manager and Kinshasa lawmaker, received 34 percent of the vote in the official results.

Kabila has ruled since 2001 in the troubled nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world. He is barred from serving three consecutive terms.

Mathilde Boussion is an Associated Press writer.

Source : https://www.sfgate.com/world/article/Congo-s-surprise-election-result-could-face-13524451.php

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