Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Congo says opposition's Tshisekedi wins election

Congo says opposition's Tshisekedi wins election

Cape Town - The Congolese People's Organisation in South Africa fears that chaos could erupt in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the country's electoral commission declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the victor.

The DRC has been in the grip of a two-year-old crisis over the succession of President Joseph Kabila, who said previous year he would step down after almost two decades in power.

Tshisekedi's father, Etienne, was a famous opposition leader under Mobutu.

Provisional results put him ahead of another opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, and the ruling coalition's Emmanuel Shadary.

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".

They would be deployed if needed to protect USA citizens and diplomatic facilities in DR Congo's capital, Kinshasa, he said.

The electoral commission on Sunday announced an indefinite delay in releasing the first results of the vote, frustrating many in this country that is rich in the minerals key to the world's smartphones, laptops and electric cars.

The Roman Catholic church is a powerful institution in this devout country, and in a joint declaration with a group of Protestant churches and election observer mission Symocel, the Catholic bishops' conference called for calm and demanded that the DRC's election board, CENI, publish "only results that come from the ballot box". If confirmed, Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the Democratic Republic of Congo gained independence in 1960, BBC News reports.

The delayed results come after worldwide pressure to announce an outcome that reflected the will of the people. The constitutional court has 14 days to validate them.

"This is the coronation of a lifetime", the deputy secretary-general of Tshisekedi's party, Rubens Mikindo, said shortly after the announcement that his candidate had won, above the cheers at party headquarters.

In the early hours of Thursday the head of DR Congo's National Electoral Commission (Ceni), Corneille Nangaa, said Mr Tshisekedi had received 38.5% of the vote and had been "provisionally declared the elected president". Kabila has promised a peaceful transition of power.

Tshisekedi, in an interview with Belgium's Le Soir newspaper, talked about Kabila's role in the DRC following the announcement of results.

Further pressure on CENI to reveal the election outcome came on Wednesday from South Africa and Zambia, DRC's neighbour to the south.

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

He was barred from running for another term under the constitution, and was supposed to step down two years ago, but the election was postponed after the electoral commission said it needed more time to register voters.

Congolese riot police take position around the electoral commission building at night in Kinshasa, Congo, Tuesday Jan. 8, 2019. About 18.3 million votes were cast, representing turnout of nearly 48 percent.

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