Congo presidential runner-up asks court to order election recount

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 13, 2019

"The request seeks the annulment of the result declaring Felix Tshisekedi president", Toussaint Ekombe told reporters outside the court.

Last week's election was originally scheduled for 2016 but was delayed as Kabila stayed in office past the end of his mandate, sparking protests that were crushed by security forces, leaving dozens dead.

Opposition contender, Felix Tshisekedi, won the presidential election with 38.57 percent of the votes, ahead of Martin Fayulu (34.8 percent) and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (23.8 percent), according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Opinion polls had flagged Fayulu as the clear favourite, although most observers predicted a result rigged in favour of Shadary.

Kabila is due to step down in the coming days in what was meant to be Congo's first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence.

Fayulu has denounced the result as an "electoral coup" engineered by Kabila in which Tshisekedi was "totally complicit".

On Friday, the former oil executive said he didn't expect the result to be annulled but that the court would approve a recount.

DR Congo's powerful Roman Catholic church also said the election board's provisional result "does not correspond" with data collected from polling stations by its 40,000 election monitors.

"I demand a hand recount of all votes for the three elections (presidential, national legislative and provincial)".

The result will determine who will hold a majority in the 500-seat parliament for the next five years.

Pro-Kabila candidates had secured 288 of the 429 seats so far declared, with 141 going to the opposition.

Global observers have been closely watching developments in sub-Saharan Africa's largest country, which covers an area equivalent to that of western Europe, with reactions to the election outcome guarded.

Most leaders have issued statements appealing for any disputes to be resolved peacefully, but notably lacking any congratulations for Tshisekedi.

SA called on the worldwide community and particularly the 15-nation UN Security Council to support this with a balanced and measured approach.

But Bishop Marcel Utembi, the head of the Catholic church's conference of bishops, urged the Security Council to ask CENI to release the records of vote-counting at polling stations to allow for verification.

As a quid pro quo, some commentators suggested, Kabila would gain immunity from prosecution for his iron-fisted 18-year rule, and protection from asset seizure.

Thursday's pre-dawn announcement brought thousands of Mr Tshisekedi supporters onto the streets in celebration, while others who had backed Mr Fayulu came out to protest.

The authorities late Friday imposed an 8pm-5am curfew in Kikwit, a Fayulu stronghold in the west of the country, city mayor Leonard Mutangu told AFP.

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