Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi wins DR Congo election

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi wins DR Congo election

The New York Times cited a senior adviser to Kabila as saying the Catholic group believed Fayulu, rather than Tshisekedi, won comfortably.

Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission on Thursday declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the victor of last month's chaotic presidential election, but the runner-up dismissed the outcome as an "electoral coup".

It was not immediately clear whether opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who had pushed hard for Kabila to leave power and vowed to clean up Congo's widespread corruption, will contest the results after leading in polling.

Tshisekedi is the head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a party founded by his father Etienne, who spent decades as the country's main opposition leader but died in February previous year.

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Tshisekedi received more than seven million votes, compared to about 6.4 million for Fayulu, who had warned against manipulation.

In an interview with Radio France International, Fayulu denounced what he called an electoral coup. "These results have nothing to do with the truth of the ballot box". "They will not steal victory from Martin Fayulu", he said.

The long delay sparked blunt warnings from inside and outside the DRC, but also coincided with an apparent overture to Kabila from opposition leaders.

The powerful religious institution deployed 40,000 election observers and is considered one of Congo's most influential and trusted institutions. "So Tshisekedi's apparent victory may become subject to a legal challenge and protests".

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After the 30 December vote, internet and text-messaging services were shut down nationwide in a move that the government said was necessary to guard against the spread of unofficial results. Another diplomat, however, said that not all the vote tallying had been completed and that the announcement might have to wait until Thursday.

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. There are serious concerns of unrest if people conclude that results have lacked in credibility.

Election observers reported a number of irregularities during the vote and the opposition alleged it was marred by fraud.

CENI released the results three days later than scheduled, prompting speculation about how the agency was handling the counting process.

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Already delayed by two years, the announcement of results was postponed by a further week to allow more time to overcome logistical challenges in a country of 80 million inhabitants spread over an area the size of western Europe with nearly no paved roads.

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