France shocked by Congo poll outcome, requests clarity

Frederick Owens
January 10, 2019

France on Thursday challenged the outcome of DR Congo's presidential election, saying the declared victory of opposition chief Felix Tshisekedi was "not consistent" with the results and that his rival Martin Fayulu appeared to have won. "I pay tribute to President Joseph Kabila", Tshisekedi told his supporters outside the headquarters of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party in Kinshasa.

On November 11, Tshisekedi joined six other opposition leaders to rally behind a single unity candidate, Martin Fayulu, to take on Shadary.

The choice fuelled accusations that Kabila - concerned about possible retribution - would use Shadary to protect his interests after the vote.

Their meeting came amid growing concern that unrest could erupt in DR Congo, following tightly contested presidential elections on 30 December.

Subsequently, activists and political opponents on Wednesday warned that they would take to the streets in protest if the victor was not announced, the Daily Nation reported.

In a conference last week, the Church's bishops said that it knew the identity of the victor and demanded that CENI publish accurate results.

Since his father founded the UDPS in 1982, the party has served as an opposition mainstay in the former Belgian colony - first under dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, then under Kabila's father Laurent-Desire Kabila, who ruled from 1997 until his death in 2001.

Congolese activist groups have urged people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the commission does not publish results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes".

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Shortly after the results were announced, Tshisekedi paid his respects to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, describing him as "an important political partner".

Meanwhile the influential Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 observers during the vote, said that it knows who won the election.

The largely peaceful election was marred by the malfunctioning of many voting machines that Congo used for the first time.

Defiantly, tens of thousands of voters in one of the barred communities held their own ballot on election day. Anti-riot police with water cannon are outside the building.

"Mr. Kabila is a Congolese citizen".

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Kinshasa that the results could lead to protests and allegations of rigging.

However, in an ominous sign, Fayula, a former oil executive who had been tipped as a favourite in the few pre-election opinion polls, is now challenging the results ahead of the January 15 official and definitive announcement of the results, which will take place three days before the new president is due to be sworn in.

Corruption fighter Mr Fayulu finished second in the vote.

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