Congo-Kinshasa: All Eyes on Judicial Bodies as Tensions Simmer

‘The lesson we learnt (in South Africa) is that democracy is not about strong people, it is about a strong system.’ - – DRC national Leonard Mulunda who now lives in SA

Five days after the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (Ceni) announced opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi as the surprise winner of the fiercely-contested poll, the vast, mineral rich nation is on a knife-edge.

Legalbrief reports that at least nine people have been killed and many more injured. In addition, five police stations have been attacked and scores of protesters arrested in a series of clashes with security agencies.

And yet, there are still strong indications that the country could be on the brink of its first peaceful, civilised handover of power since independence 60 years ago.

Irregularities including faulty voting machines, poorly run polling stations and a halt in the vote for over a million people due to insecurity and an Ebola outbreak in the east, have overshadowed the process.

Runner-up Martin Fayulu on Saturday filed a challenge in the Constitutional Court, claiming that former President Joseph Kabila had done a backroom deal with Tshisekedi. ‘We ask for a manual recount, polling station by polling station, before the Ceni, before the African Union, before the UN, and in front of everyone else ... so that everyone can see what the Congolese people achieved,’ Fayulu told Voice of America .

Concerned that the dispute could spark the kind of violence seen after the 2006 and 2011 elections, the UN Security Council met on Friday to discuss how to react. ‘Tensions were mounting while the Ceni tabulated the results, notably in light of posturing by parties and candidates,’ Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, told the meeting.

However, The Standard reports that the 15 council members ‘differed in their appreciation of the problems that beset the process’. A negative or cautionary international reaction could be problematic for Kabila whose government has defended the election’s organisation, and could weaken the legitimacy of his hand-picked successor, Emmanuel Shadary, should he be declared winner.

A report on the News24 site notes that commission head Comeille Yobeluo told the council that any challenges would be handled by DRC's judicial bodies. He noted that the Catholic Church had challenged the outcome of the presidential elections held in 2006 and 2011 and, as a result, it was ‘no surprise’ that it was challenging the provisional results. City Press reports that France and former colonial power Belgium have also expressed doubt over the results.

Full Voice of America report

Full report in The Standard

Full report on the News24 site

Full City Press report

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