Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Opposition's Felix Tshisekedi declared victor of DRC presidential poll

Counting the votes in DR Congo Africa's second largest country has been a mamoth task Delaying of DRC election results announcement increases likelihood of extension of president's mandate to March
Kenny Thornton | 10 January, 2019, 12:21

"The two Presidents underscored that the delay in releasing the results of the elections can lead to suspicions and compromise peace and stability of the country", said the statement following the meeting in Durban.

This is the first time the vast country has seen a peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Kabila, 47, was due to step down two years ago but clung on to office, sparking widespread protests that were repressed at the cost of scores of lives.

Felix Tshisekedi, leader of Congolese main opposition the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, attends a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 23, 2018.

"Some observers have suggested that President Joseph Kabila's government sought to make a deal as hopes faded for a win" for Shadary, the AP reported.

The opposition leader and corruption fighter who had led in polling, Martin Fayulu, finished second in the vote.

Nangaa said that, instead, the results announcement would be delayed until "next week", claiming that around half of the votes remained uncounted.

Kabila's choice of successor fuelled accusations that the long-time leader - concerned about possible retribution - would use Shadary to protect his interests after the vote. 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.

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In order to do so they must appeal to Congo's constitutional court, which has 10 days to hear and rule on any challenges.

Tshisekedi, who received more than 7 million votes, or 38 percent, had not been widely considered the leading candidate and is relatively untested.

He also told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir that Kabila could be honoured for ushering in a peaceful transition.

"There's no spirit of revenge", said Tshisekedi. As Congo anxiously awaits the outcome of the presidential election, many in the capital say they are convinced that the opposition won and that the delay in announcing results is allowing manipulation in favor of the ruling party.

An al-Jazeera journalist is circumspect about whether the results will be announced then. Activist groups urged people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if results don't match "the truth of the ballot boxes".

Attention now turns to Congo's powerful Catholic church, which has said its 40,000 election observers at all polling stations found a "clear winner" but was barred by electoral regulations from saying more. As the electoral commission met this week, anti-riot police moved into place outside.

Congo on December 30 voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila.

Already delayed by two years, the announcement of results was postponed by a further week to allow more time to overcome logistical challenges in a country of 80 million inhabitants spread over an area the size of western Europe with nearly no paved roads.

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