Opposition's Felix Tshisekedi declared victor of DRC presidential poll

Blanche Robertson
January 10, 2019

Congo's electoral commission says "everything is ready" for provisional results of the presidential election to be announced today.

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.

He backs ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is under European Union sanctions for a crackdown on Congolese protesting two years of election delays while he was interior minister.

Felix Tshisekedi: The man trying to outdo his father - son of late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, he has promised to make the fight against poverty his priority.

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.

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".

Nangaa said that, instead, the results announcement would be delayed until "next week", claiming that around half of the votes remained uncounted. SYMOCEL, a group of Congolese civil society organizations which deployed 20,000 election observers, said in a report on Tuesday there had been major irregularities at the results-compilation centers, with numerous cases registered in Shadary's home province of Maniema.

Losing candidates, including Fayulu and Shadary, can contest the results before Congo's constitutional court, which has 10 days to hear and rule on any challenges.

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Fellow opposition candidate Fayulu who was backed by former Katanga governor Moise Katumbi - considered a traitor by Kabila - and ex-warlord and former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, has also sounded a conciliatory tone.

The UDPS also warned that the commission could be delaying the announcement of the December 30 election results in a bid to manipulate the outcome.

Anti-riot police with water cannon and armored vehicles are outside Congo's electoral commission ahead of the announcement of the first results of the presidential election.

"These results have nothing to do with the truth at the ballot box", Fayulu is said to have told Radio France International.

The head of the electoral commission, Corneille Nangaa, earlier said that the results from a number of polling stations still needed to be counted.

An al-Jazeera journalist is circumspect about whether the results will be announced then. And in a last-minute decision, some 1 million of the country's 40 million voters were barred from participating, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola virus outbreak. Its statement has been condemned by officials in Mr Kabila's government. He is known as the "people's soldier" for leading protests against President Kabila.

While Nshole acknowledged the difficulties in manually counting votes, especially in remote areas, he warned that the longer the election results are delayed, the more that suspicion will grow among the Congolese people.

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