Congo: Opposition Leader Tshisekedi Wins Presidential Vote

Cheryl Sanders
January 10, 2019

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won the long-awaited presidential poll in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the electoral commission said Thursday, paving the way for the country's first handover of power in 18 years.

This could be Congo's first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960.

The SABC reports that the organisation says there are suspicions of a deal between former president Joseph Kabila and Tshisekedi, the provisional victor of the contentious December presidential election.

Shadary was competing against two main opposition candidates, businessman Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, the president of Congo's largest opposition party.

Kabila has backed ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is under European Union sanctions for his role in a crackdown on people protesting the election delay when he was interior minister.

Leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, a Kinshasa lawmaker and businessman, has urged the electoral commission to announce the true results as quickly as possible and warned it not to "play with fire, it is very risky".


The electoral commission has been under pressure from the opposition and local observer groups to release the much-awaited results.

Congo's powerful Catholic Church has upped the stakes by saying it found a clear victor from data compiled by its 40,000 observers deployed to all polling stations. Anti-government protests in towns and cities are likely under such delays, but of smaller size and duration than would probably occur in response to the (less likely) immediate announcement of a victory by Kabila's chosen successor or the outright invalidation of the 30 December results, which would respectively pose high and very high protest and riot risks.

Losing candidates can contest the results before the country's constitutional court.

He also told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir that Kabila could be honoured for ushering in a peaceful transition.

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

Tshisekedi "is provisionally proclaimed elected as president", CENI President Corneille Nangaa said.


After several days of intense speculation on the outcome of the DRC's presidential elections, the country's election board, CENI, proclaimed Felix Tshisekedi the victor.

"These results have nothing to do with the truth at the ballot box", Fayulu is said to have told Radio France International.

Observers said many polling stations opened late and closed early and in some places voting machines malfunctioned.

Congo's ruling party responded angrily, calling the church's announcement "anarchist", and the electoral commission accused the church of "preparing an uprising".

Shouts of joy erupted at the commission's offices as the historic results were announced.

Now Congo faces a new leader who is little known after spending many years in Belgium and living in the shadow of his outspoken father. "The figures compiled by the Catholic Church showed that Fayulu won an absolute majority of the votes", the AP says, citing "several diplomats briefed on the matter".


Other reports by iNewsToday

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