West alarmed by shock Congo poll result

April FrancisJan 12, 2019

Supporters of the surprise Democratic Republic of Congo presidential victor have celebrated in the capital as the rival opposition candidate denounced the result as fraudulent.

The electoral commission was meant to publish results last Sunday but said it needed more time. Releasing untrue results would be considered a "constitutional coup d'etat", said Carbone Beni, coordinator of the Filimbi movement, calling on other African nations to make sure the people's vote is respected. He called on the Congolese people to "rise as one man to protect victory".

The influential Catholic Church has questioned the official results of the Democratic Republic of Congo's controversial presidential election. Three diplomats briefed on the Church mission's tally said it showed Fayulu had won. Two diplomats also said that all major observation missions, including from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, showed similar results with Fayulu the victor.

"We must have clarity on these results, which are the opposite of what we expected", Le Drian told CNews on Thursday.

Fayulu, however, is backed by ex-rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba and former governor Moise Katumbi, two of Kabila's fiercest rivals.

Even as Tshisekedi and his supporters celebrate their victory, Fayulu was arguably the most important candidate in these elections.

DR Congo's powerful Catholic Church says election results tallied by its observers do not match official results announced on Thursday by the country's election commission, which named Felix Tshisekedi as the surprise victor.

Nangaa said Tshisekedi had received more than 7 million votes, compared to about 6.4 million for Fayulu and about 4.4 million for Kabila's hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Felix Tshisekedi was declared the victor of the country's long-delayed elections.

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Hours after DRC's election board declared Tshisekedi victor of the December 30 poll, two police and two civilians were killed in clashes in the western city of Kikwit - a stronghold of Fayulu, who has rejected the result.

An official from the from U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations said Tshisekedi's win might buy some temporary calm but that "the exiled and cheated will rebel", referring to ex-militia and political leaders who are backing Fayulu.

The preliminary results of the December 30 vote had been expected on Sunday, but the commission indefinitely delayed the announcement, to the growing suspicion of many Congolese.

The mineral-rich country has never had a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Known to his friends as "Fatshi", the portly 55-year-old is set to replace President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the volatile, poverty-stricken nation with an iron fist since 2001. "This is the beginning of national reconciliation".

Defiantly, tens of thousands of voters held their own unofficial ballot on election day, and Fayulu won easily.

DR Congo's government cut internet services the day after the vote to prevent speculation on social media.

President Joseph Kabila is due to step down after 18 years in office.

Some Congolese have said Tshisekedi lost support by splitting the opposition.

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