Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo rejects request to suspend election results

The African Union has 'serious doubts' about Kinshasa's announced election results

DR Congo's Constitutional Court hearing an petition to nullify Felix Tshisekedi's victory in the December 30 presidential poll, Kinshasa on January 15, 2019. AFP
DR Congo's Constitutional Court hearing an petition to nullify Felix Tshisekedi's victory in the December 30 presidential poll, Kinshasa on January 15, 2019. AFP

Democratic Republic of Congo officials rejected an African Union request to suspend the finalisation of election results that are being challenged in court by an opposition candidate.

The AU on Thursday criticised Congo’s handling of the vote, saying it had “serious doubts” about the veracity of the outcome. The organisation is dispatching a delegation to the country to help resolve a political crisis spawned by the disputed result.

“The African Union shouldn’t interfere in Congo’s internal affairs,” Congolese Communications Minister Lambert Mende said on Friday from the capital, Kinshasa. “The AU can give us advice, which is welcome, but we cannot allow them to direct our courts. This is impossible.”

Congo’s electoral commission last week declared Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the December 30 ballot. Rival candidate Martin Fayulu, who came second, says the results were rigged and is challenging the result in the Constitutional Court. The court is expected to make its ruling in the coming days.

‘Serious Doubts’

Mr Fayulu’s claims are backed by the country’s Catholic Church and leaked electoral-commission data showing that more people voted for Mr Fayulu than Mr Tshisekedi.

African heads of state and government who met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday concluded that there were “serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results, as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the votes cast,” the body said. “Accordingly, the heads of state and government called for the suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections.”

If the Constitutional Court validates the electoral commission’s poll figures, Mr Tshisekedi will succeed Mr Kabila, who was barred by the constitution from seeking a third term after leading the cobalt- and copper-rich country for almost 18 years.

Secret Agreement

Mr Tshisekedi’s party also rejected the African Union request.

“We consider the Constitutional Court to be our country’s highest judicial institution,” Vidiye Tshimanga, a spokesman for Mr Tshisekedi, said by phone. “No state can give orders to another concerning matters of sovereignty and electoral matters fall under the sovereignty of our country.”

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Mr Fayulu accuses Messrs Tshisekedi and Kabila of having a secret agreement to deprive him of the presidency – a charge denied by both camps. Mr Kabila’s anointed successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, came third, while Mr Fayulu was backed by Moise Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba, two of Mr Kabila’s biggest adversaries.

Mr Fayulu applauded the African Union’s statement and welcomed the delegation’s imminent arrival in Kinshasa in remarks on Friday night. He said he “will work for the reconstruction" of the country without settling scores, calling on supporters “to not give in to provocation, to avoid anything which can divide us.”

The Congo Research Group this week published leaked data it said show Mr Fayulu won the election by a large margin. The figures include a near complete tally of results from the Congolese National Independent Electoral Commission’s database, and a second more partial set gathered by an almost 40,000-strong observer mission run by the Catholic Church on election day, the New York-based organisation said.

“The results contradict those published by the election commission,” the CRG said on its website. “These two documents suggest that the elections were dramatically rigged in the favor of Felix Tshisekedi.”

Updated: January 19, 2019 02:39 PM

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