Congo-Kinshasa: Constitutional Court to Rule On Electoral Challenge

Photo: Radio Okapi/Photo John Bompengo
An election worker shows a set of results after the December 30 vote.
18 January 2019

Congo has rebuffed African Union calls for the Constitutional Court to delay announcing the final result of DRC's December election. The AU cited "serious doubts on the conformity of provisional results with votes cast."

DR Congo's Constitutional Court is preparing to publish the results of the country's December 30 election. Calls from the African Union (AU) imploring the court not to publish the results drew a sharp response from the government.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said: "The court is independent, both of us and the African Union. I don't think it's the business of the government or even the African Union to tell the court what it should do."

For their part, the African Union and several other international and regional groups asked the court to delay its ruling due to "serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results, as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the votes cast."

The AU announced that it will send a high-level delegation to Congo on Monday. The country's president is to be inaugurated on Tuesday.

'Electoral coup'

The vote, which was Congo's first transition of power via ballot, came down to a battle between two opposition leaders, Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu, with outgoing President Joseph Kabila's favored successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, coming in a distant third.

Following the vote, Fayulu emerged as runaway favorite based on partial counts, but Tshisekedi was later announced the provisional winner. Fayulu has challenged the result, called for a recount and dismissed the provisional tally as an "electoral coup."

Observers fear that Kabila may have cut some kind of a backroom deal with Tshisekedi in return for investigative leniency on him and his cronies. Fayulu had promised to battle corruption and enforce the rule of law.

Fayulu's approach could have posed a serious threat to Kabila, who has amassed enormous amounts of wealth plundering the mineral-rich nation since coming to power in 2001, and refused to step down when his third term ended in 2016.

Kabila, who was constitutionally barred from seeking a fourth term, has already suggested that he will run again in 2023.

Protests, arrests and no internet for almost three weeks

The electoral commission's January 10 announcement that Tshisekedi took 38 percent of the vote to Fayulu's 34 percent runs counter to numbers compiled by the nation's influential Catholic Church. The church deployed some 40,000 election observers during the December 30 vote and came to the determination that Fayulu had in fact won 61 percent of the vote.

Uncertainty over the result has led to protests in which the UN says 59 people have been injured and 241 arrested. It is widely expected that the court, which is stacked with Kabila appointees, will ultimately confirm Tshisekedi as the winner.

Regional and legislative votes have also been called into question, as Kabila's ruling coalition won majorities despite its presidential candidate performing so poorly.

Further problems with the vote included the barring of some 1 million voters in the east of the country, due to what the election commission said was a deadly Ebola outbreak.

Internet service throughout the country, cut off the day after the election, has also not yet been restored.

js/msh (AFP, AP)

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