Politics

Congo Elections Crisis Deepens as Constitutional Court Declares Tshisekedi Winner, but Fayulu Calls for Protests

Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) election crisis deepened early on Sunday when the Constitutional Court confirmed the win of Felix Tshisekedi, rejecting claims of fraud, and runner-up Martin Fayulu promptly declared himself the country’s “only legitimate president”.

Fayulu’s supporters have alleged an extraordinary backroom deal by outgoing President Joseph Kabila to rig the vote in favour of the opposition after the ruling party’s candidate did so poorly that a Plan B was needed. Neither side has acknowledged the accusations.

The court, however, said Fayulu offered no proof to back his assertions that he had won easily based on leaked data attributed to the electoral commission.

‘Constitutional coup d’etat’

Fayulu urged Congolese to take to the streets to peacefully protest what he called a “constitutional coup d’etat,” accusing the court of validating false results. “It’s no secret … that you have elected me president,” he said.

 

“I consider myself the only legitimate president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I call on the Congolese people not to recognise someone who would take on that role illegitimately, nor to obey the orders coming from him,” he said.

Neither Congolese nor the international community should recognise Tshisekedi, nor obey him, Fayulu added.

Tshisekedi said early on Sunday that the Constitutional Court’s decision confirming him as the winner of the presidential election was a victory for the entire country.

“It is Congo that won,” said Tshisekedi, speaking to his supporters after the court decision.

“It is not the victory of one camp against another. I am engaged in a campaign to reconcile all Congolese. … The Congo that we are going to form will not be a Congo of division, hatred or tribalism. It will be a reconciled Congo, a strong Congo that will be focused on development, peace and security.”

The largely untested Tshisekedi, son of the late, charismatic opposition leader Etienne, is set to be inaugurated on Tuesday. His supporters who had gathered outside the court cheered.

“It’s a shame that Mr Fayulu wants to stay isolated,” Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Vidiye Tshimanga, told The Associated Press. He said the two men once had been part of an opposition coalition demanding that Kabila step down.

The new president will need everyone for the reconstruction of the country, Tshimanga said, as the Congolese people have “suffered a lot in recent years”.

Pierre Englebert, professor of international relations at Pomona College, told Al Jazeera that the decision of the court is not “surprising”.

“The court is widely understood as being populated with judges loyal to the president,” he said.

The court’s declaration came shortly after the African Union in an unprecedented move asked DR Congo to delay announcing the final election results, citing “serious doubts” about the vote.

It planned to send a high-level delegation on Monday to find a way out of the crisis, fearing unrest spilling across borders of the vast Central African nation.

Congo’s government replied it was up to the courts.

The court turned away Fayulu’s request for a recount in the December 30 vote.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende quickly acknowledged the court’s decision, congratulating Tshisekedi as Congo’s fifth president.

“When you think about it, the brilliance of the arrangement that they have is now they have the supporters of the president, of Kabila himself, and the supporters of Tshisekedi being in favor of the decision, and therefore we spread the opposition,” said Englebert.

Fears of unrest

The country of 80 million people, rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world, is moving close to achieving its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960.

But observers have warned that the court’s upholding of the official results could lead to further unrest.

“I don’t know what the priest will say [in Sunday mass], and I don’t know what’s going to come out of this, but I could imagine that there could be significant protests. Even if they wanted to be peaceful, the regime has a strong repressive capacity, and it could easily slip into a violent outcome,” Englebert said.

At least 34 people have been killed since provisional results were released on Jan. 10, the United Nations has said.

The court could have ordered a recount or ordered a new election.

It called unfounded a challenge filed by another candidate, Theodore Ngoy, that objected to the electoral commission’s last-minute decision to bar some 1 million voters from the election over a deadly Ebola virus outbreak.

The court said Tshisekedi won with more than 7 million votes, or 38 percent, and Fayulu received 34 percent. However, leaked data published by some media outlets, attributed to the electoral commission and representing 86 percent of the votes, show that Fayulu won 59 percent while Tshisekedi received 19 percent.

Fayulu, a lawmaker and businessman who is outspoken about cleaning up Congo’s sprawling corruption, is widely seen as posing more of a threat to Kabila, his allies and the vast wealth they have amassed.

All of the election results, not just the presidential ones, had been widely questioned after Kabila’s ruling coalition won a majority in legislative and provincial votes while its presidential candidate finished a distant third.

Congo’s election had been meant to take place in late 2016, and many Congolese worried that Kabila, in power since 2001, was seeking a way to stay in office. Barred from serving three consecutive terms, Kabila already has hinted he might run again in 2023.

After Tshisekedi was announced as the surprise winner in provisional results on Jan. 10, some Congolese weary of turmoil appeared to decide that replacing Kabila with an opposition figure was enough, despite questions about the vote.

Reflecting the yearning for stability, 33 Congolese non-governmental groups and civil society movements on Thursday called on people to comply with whatever the court rules to “preserve the peace.”

With that perhaps in mind, Tshisekedi’s party sharply rejected the AU’s attempted intervention.

The continental body’s stance is “the work of some mining lobbies seeking to destabilise the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to perpetuate the looting of this country,” the party’s secretary-general, Jean-Marc Kabund, said in a statement.

Ahead of the court’s ruling, hundreds of Tshisekedi’s supporters were in the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, waving tree branches and banners reading “Congo for the Congolese.”

(Source: Aljazeera)

24 Comments

  1. Boko Haram

    We are coming there

  2. Herv Rena

    President Lungu has emphasised on the need for opposition to accept electon resuls no matter in whose favour.For the sake of peace let us confidence in our govnments of the day..

  3. Mmj

    congratulations Tchisekedi

  4. wise leader

    Tshisekedi congratulations to you,and please the onus is on you to insure peace,development and security is delivered to our bro’s and sisters in Congo. Crack down is an alternative other wise

  5. CHITOKO MALADI

    WE ARE FOR PEACE IN DRC STOP THIS HATRED OF PROTEST PEOPLE SUFFER TOO MUCH.

  6. Majoni Tyson

    Africa is far away from justice. Pipo,s choice is no longer deemed important, we are ruled by illegal leaders as a result failure in the governance comes a story of the day. Pipo are voting while the electoral commissions are reversing the results. Peace has nothing to do now let’s put down the pen and get back to the gun perhaps that can work.

  7. Mr. K

    Congratulations. Mr tshisekedi for being the first democratically elected president in DRC since 1960 DRC must realize that DRC has never has peace for a long time now the opppotion must unite help the president to develops DRC

  8. paul usona

    In Africa we should have just striked a deal with the whites,to stop persecuting us but be left to rule,maybe things would have been better

  9. C2

    DRC is a maximum prison it’s hard to escape

  10. Hammer

    Paul Kagame wants to put a puppet as president in DRC and he is using his position as AU chairman to lie that this is an AU position and yet it is for his selfish interes. he wants to continue siphoning DRC’s wealth. DRC is a sovereign country and the courts have spoken.
    We wish peace to the people of DRC.

  11. Kings

    Comment: Thats Politics, You Vote For The Candidate Of Your Choice, The Other Sources Gives Brings In Someone Alse, Thats Life On Earth, Otherwise Its Better Than Kabila, Fayulu Your Time Will Come, Just Unite And Build Your Nation, Congraturations Mr Tshisekedi For Your Victory. Drc Be At Easy.

  12. OBEDINHO

    I think we have put God first in everything we do, otherwise without God everything become difficult , so our neighbor DRC…….Put everything in God’s hands….. That’s what i can say…..may God speak with you….DRC

  13. OBEDINHO

    I think we have to put God first in everything we do, otherwise without God everything become difficult , so our neighbor DRC…….Put everything in God’s hands….. That’s what i can say…..may God speak with you….DRC

  14. itole

    lungu nayimbi journey yamoneka iyo

  15. Thambuli major

    To avoid conflicts in any nation,I would love the electro system changes for better ness of nations where by all political leader

  16. Thambuli major

    To avoid conflicts in any nation,I would love the electro system changes for better ness of nations where by all political leader must be put in one room so that wen we are voting their are able to read result on their own and this shuid be done thru electronic system unlike the way it happens because electoral commissions cannot be trusted.

  17. Alfred kashiya

    The voice of a man speaks. I wish other countries have get the sense from the massage

    • Uncle k

      Yaba yakosa BA neighbor elyo balefulumukila pa zed tabeshibe lwa mainsa luno.

  18. Chilima

    God bless this country

  19. Chile Sammy .

    It’s only in Congo and Zambia where pipo don’t accept that they have lost

  20. lwipa

    its alright pipo of DRC africa will never change. thats why we have presidents who have illegally lived beyond their terms leading A.U what do you expect? otherwise nkondo yayi.

  21. Jms

    Thanks to the winner but if Fayulu protests then what did president Lungu go for? We must have meetings for the better not for worse

  22. Osei

    Congratulations and a big thanks to Mr kabila for allowing elections to take place

  23. CHALE COOL

    its hard to accept mr martin fayulu if its GOD’s will you be president one day and thats the biggening of democrace in dr congo.

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