Southern Africa: Post-Election DR Congo Urged By SADC to 'Negotiate' Unity Government

Photo: congonouveau.org
Felix Tshisekedi.
13 January 2019

Unsettled post-election DR Congo has been urged to form a national unity government by the Southern Africa Development Community. SADC's chairman, Zambian President Edgar Lungu has also suggested a 'recount' in the DRC.

Fears of fresh violence across the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prompted the 16-nation SADC Sunday to call on "all political leaders" to "pursue a negotiated political settlement for a government of national unity."

Similar arrangements had been "very successful" in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, said SADC's chairman Edgar Lungu, adding that he had spoken to DRC's "provisionally proclaimed winner," opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, and "other stakeholders," including those in Africa's Great Lakes Region.

Lungu, referring to DRC's presidential election, said SADC had "taken note of the strong doubts cast on the poll outcome by [the] Roman Catholic Church in the DRC, which had deployed more than 40,000 monitors."

Felix Tshisekedi declared winner by 4 points

Early Friday, DRC's election commission had declared Tshisekedi victor with a 38.57 percent share of the vote.

Rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu -- with 34.8 percent -- subsequently lodged an appeal via his lawyers at the Constitutional Court in the capital Kinshasa, alleging the result of the December 30 poll had been "fabricated."

Early on Saturday, the election commission also announced that in National Assembly poll outgoing President Joseph Kabila's ruling coalition seemed set to retain its parliamentary majority with powers to countersign presidential orders.

Losing candidate Martin Fayulu appeals

On Saturday, Fayulu, with his lawyers and thousands of his Lumuka party supporters had converged on the court complex to pick up a formal receipt for his appeal. They waited hours before police let them through barricades, said DW correspondent Jonas Gerding.

Police patrols subsequently evicted protesters from surrounding streets using tear gas and rifle butts, leaving some 80 people injured.

Tshisekedi fails to show at church

Tshisekedi, who has made no public appearances since Friday, had been expected Sunday at Kinshasa's Philadelphie missionary center. However, he failed to show because of what a church press officer termed "security reasons."

Asked about Tshisekedi's low profile, his press officer Lydie Omenga said: "At this stage he has nothing to add ... he has already started work and now waits for the results to be confirmed."

Minerals, minerals

A Reuters report surveying the international mining industry reactions to DRC's election outcome, said a Tshisekedi presidency would be "an unknown quantity for mining executives."

Tshisekedi's party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, has in the past placed importance on a state role in mining coupled with an aversion to privatization.

On the campaign trail, however, Tshisekedi had said he would reexamine a mining code introduced last year.

'Sprawling' Kabila network

In power since January 2001, President Kabila's influence through "sprawling patronage networks" was unlikely to wane, according to Jason Stearns, director of New York University's Congo Research Group. "If I were a savvy investor, I'd look at DRC and just step back for six months," said Stearns.

Congo's mineral wealth includes its cobalt reserves, used in electric car batteries, copper, gold and diamonds spread over an area one-fourth the size of the United States.

One source quoted by Reuters said Tshisekedi would need a functioning mining sector to "raise revenues and, importantly, ensure the army is paid."

After Algeria, DRC is geographically Africa's second largest nation and has a population put at 80 million, with Kinshasa set to become one of Africa's mega-cities.

(Reuters, AP, epd, AFP)

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