Catholic Church Rejects DR Congo’s Presidential Vote


Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was on Thursday declared victor of DR Congo's presidential election, but his victory was dismissed by the runner-up and questioned by the Catholic church, clouding the vote's legitimacy and hopes of peace.

The announcement of a victory by opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu (who the Catholic Church has indicated was the winner) is unlikely, but would pose high risks of looting by military elements and a coup attempt in Kinshasa.

"These results have nothing to do with the truth at the ballot box".

Nshole's remarks were made a press conference during which he also remarked on the historic change brought about by the election.

The Church said in a statement, "The results from the presidential election as published by CENI [Independent National Electoral Commission] do not correspond to the data collected by our observation mission from polling stations and vote counts".

Vital Kamerhe, one of Tshisekedi's supporters, told DW that following the election, DR Congo was among the countries that have seen peaceful turnover of power and that Kabila should receive some credit for that. "This is the beginning of national reconciliation".

The electoral commission (CENI) announced on Tuesday evening that it had initiated "a series of evaluation meetings and deliberations, at the end of which it will proceed to the publication of provisional results from the presidential election".

A source close to Tshisekedi said the comments were aimed at "Kabila and the army". The New York Times cited a senior adviser to Kabila as saying the Catholic group believed Fayulu, rather than Tshisekedi, won comfortably. She added, will the African Union "consider a power transfer "enough" or will they push for investigation and real result?"

The UDPS also warned that the commission could be delaying the announcement of the December 30 election results in a bid to manipulate the outcome. The United States threatened sanctions against officials who rigged the vote.

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At stake is political stewardship of the notoriously unstable central African nation, which has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. Dozens of polling centers opened hours late as materials went missing. This is an ugly swindle of [DRC's Electoral Commission President] Mr. Nangaa and his political camp.

Congolese riot police takes position near the electoral commission building in Kinshasa, Congo, Wednesday Jan. 9, 2019.

Congo's government cut internet service the day after the vote to prevent speculation on social media.

Given that Kabila was reluctant to leave office after the Constitution required that he do so, many believed he would ensure that Shadary was elected.

Some said they would be happy as long as Fayulu or Tshisekedi won, while recalling the violence that followed past disputed elections.

Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters in the capital Kinshasa, Tshisekedi said he would be the president "of all Congolese".

"There's no spirit of revenge", said Felix Tshisekedi, the candidate of the longtime opposition UDPS party. He was less visible in campaigning than Fayulu and did not make himself available to reporters after the vote.

Kabila said before the vote he planned to remain involved in politics and could not rule out running again for president in 2023 when he will no longer be term-limited.

The candidate from Mr Kabila's party had initially been expected to win, but ended up finishing third - and is not challenging the results.