DRC Congo election: tensions mount as candidate appeals against result

DR Congo president

His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia says given the strong objections to the provisional results of the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called on all political leaders to consider a negotiated political settlement for an all-inclusive government.

Fayulu, who is backed by bitter political rivals of Kabila, on Saturday filed an election complaint with the Constitutional Court to have the result overturned.

And the powerful Catholic Church also said the outcome of the troubled December 30 vote did not tally with data its own observers collected, raising serious questions about the credibility of figures released by the CENI election commission.

In a tweet on Saturday, Fayulu wrote that the results "were invented out of whole cloth".

Congo has never seen a peaceful transfer of power since winning independence from Belgium in 1960. But the shock result declared Tshisekedi the victor with 38.57 percent, while Fayulu came second with 34.8 percent.

Any disputes over the result must be lodged within the next nine days at the Constitutional Court, which will play a decisive role in how such issues are resolved.

CENI said it was not prepared to hold the elections following a fire that destroyed voting machines as well as the deadly Ebola outbreak in the country's east.

More than 15,000 candidates were running in the poll, which determines who will control parliament in DR Congo for the next five years.

DRC is a giant, straddling central Africa over an area the size of continental western Europe.

The outgoing National Assembly, which took power in 2011, is now dominated by Kabila supporters who, even ahead of the announcement, were already claiming to have won a majority.

The result will undercut Tshisekedi's ability to deliver on campaign promises to make a break with the 18-year Kabila era and fuel suspicion that his victory, announced on Thursday, came through a backroom deal that will preserve Kabila's influence over important ministries and the security forces. "It would be unsafe not to support the democratic process in the DRC", he said.

At least two policemen and two civilians were reported to have been killed in the eastern city of Kikwit on Saturday.

Seventeen police were injured, he said, denying earlier reports of police fatalities.

He has called for a hand recount of the votes.

Bishop Marcel Utembi, who heads the CENCO Catholic bishop conference, renewed his claim that the announced results are not in line with the data collected by its 40,000 observers, suggesting that Fayulu was the victor.

Kabila has signalled he intends to stay in politics and could run for president in 2023 when he is no longer restricted by term limits.

About 130 seats went to opposition lawmakers, he said.

"CENCO's word on the election results will therefore be heeded by many Congolese, who suspect the vote remains rigged".

Worldwide observers have been closely watching developments in sub-Saharan Africa's largest country, which covers an area equivalent to that of western Europe, with reactions to the election outcome guarded.

France dismissed Tshisekedi's victory as "not consistent" with the actual results, while the US State Department demanded "clarification" and urged "all stakeholders to remain calm", echoing calls by the European Union and the African Union.

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