DRC rejects African Union call to suspend presidential election


DRC rejects African Union call to suspend presidential election
Accompanied by his wife and his lawyers, Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, center, petitions the constitutional court following his loss in the presidential elections in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 12, 2019.

In Summary

  • Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner of elections Sunday, but Fayulu has challenged the outcome in court, claiming that his opponent made a deal with outgoing president Joseph Kabila.
  • Fayulu's opposition coalition said Friday he captured 61 percent of the vote, citing figures from the Catholic Church, which placed 40,000 election observers across the Central African country. The coalition said Tshisekedi won 18 percent of the vote. By law, only the electoral commission can announce election results in Congo.
  • Pre-election polls indicated that Fayulu was the favorite to replace outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Kabila backed another candidate, his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has rejected a call from the African Union (AU) to suspend announcement of the final results of last month’s presidential election, asserting the independence of the constitutional court considering an appeal of the vote count.

“The court is independent, both of us and the African Union,” a government spokesman said, adding that it is not the business of the government or even of the African Union to tell the court what it should do.”

The DRC’s constitutional court is expected to rule as early as Friday on declared runner-up Martin Fayulu’s request for a recount, alleging fraud.

The AU continental body issued a statement late Thursday calling for Congo’s government to suspend the announcement of final results, citing “serious doubts’” about the vote.

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner of elections Sunday, but Fayulu has challenged the outcome in court, claiming that his opponent made a deal with outgoing president Joseph Kabila.

Fayulu’s opposition coalition said Friday he captured 61 percent of the vote, citing figures from the Catholic Church, which placed 40,000 election observers across the Central African country. The coalition said Tshisekedi won 18 percent of the vote. By law, only the electoral commission can announce election results in Congo.

Pre-election polls indicated that Fayulu was the favorite to replace outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Kabila backed another candidate, his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary.

The AU statement said that heads of state and government agreed to “urgently dispatch” a high-level delegation to Congo, as early as Monday, to find “a way out of the post-electoral crisis,” in response to concern of Congo’s many neighbors that more unrest could spill across borders.

The DRC’s constitutional court could uphold the election results, order a recount or order a new election.

Congo’s presidential inauguration is scheduled for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, U.N. Human Rights office said that it has documented 34 deaths, 59 wounded and 241 arbitrary arrests in Congo since provisional election results were announced on January 10.

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