The elections board in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, early Thursday declared a president-elect in what will become the first peaceful transition of power in the troubled country.
Felix Tshisekedi, 56, was named winner of hotly contested elections of December 30, 2018. Son of a deceased opposition veteran will take over from outgoing Joseph Kabila.
The provisional results by CENI showed that Tshisekedi got over seven million votes representing over 38% of valid votes cast. He beat another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, who came in second with about 35%.
Since the results were declared, there has been a series of reactions: victory celebrations in the capital Kinshasa, reported protests by Fayulu supporters and a diplomatic doubt as well as government and ruling party concession.
Defeated opposition candidate in DRC elections Martin Fayulu told the BBC’s Africa Editor that he will launch legal challenge to election result. In an inerview, he confirmed that his team are preparing their plan.
Mr Fayulu made clear he had little faith the move would succeed but said he did not want to give President Kabila excuse to say he had not followed the legal options.
Asked if he would call on his supporters not to demonstrate on streets, he said it was legal right of all Congolese to protest according to the law. “If you are not happy you protest according to the law.”
Asked if he worried about violence in the coming days and weeks? “Yes I worry if CENI doesnt give us the correct figures, if CENI continue to act as its acting now, if Mr Kabila and his team continue to dictate what the electoral commission has to do.”
United States and the United Kingdom have joined calls for clarity over the January 10 provisional results following doubts raised by France and Belgium.
The UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, wrote in a tweet: “Very concerned about discrepancies in provisional #DRC election results. Crucial that Congolese people’s democratic will is respected. Data and methodology MUST be examined. Pleased Security Council will discuss tomorrow.”
The US Congress’ House Foreign Affairs Committee also demanded the release of disaggregated voting data to help bolster public faith in the provisional outcome.
Its chairman Eliot Engel said: CENI “should release disaggregated voting data to bolster public faith in provisional election results. DRC deserves a transparent & accountable government & I will be watching this situation closely.”
The other main party to have questioned the results being the Roman Catholic Church who have stressed that the results did not match with tallies that their 4,000 observer team put together.
A number of people on social media are drawing conspiracy theories around the Tshisekedi victory, claiming that a deal must have been reached between the president-elect and the outgoing president.
The theorists hold that with the ruling party’s candidate clearly staring at defeat, Kabila opted for the lesser of two evils in the opposition camp, the CACH coalition.
The other camp led by Martin Fayulu – the Lamuka coalition – has two of Kabila’s political arch rivals in the persons of Moise Katumbi, a former governor of Katanga Province and Jean Pierre-Bemba – a former vice president.
The Catholic Church in DRC, CENCO, has reacted to the declaration of Felix Tshisekedi as president-elect of the country.
The church said results announced by the elections board, CENI, did not match with tallies it had through its observers.
CENCO had last week declared that its records from the vote showed that there was an outright winner from the December 30, 2018 elections. It’s declaration was slammed by CENI and the ruling coalition.
They did not mention who was the winner in their tallies but its widely believed to be Martin Fayulu who leads an opposition coalition, Lamuka. Fayulu has rejected the results and called for observers to publish their figures.
Internet has been restored across the country after a blackout that lasted over a week. Authorities justified the move and said it was to help avert the publication of fake results and compromising security.
People in the capital, Kinshasa, are now able to access the internet hours after the announcement of provisional results.
The BBC reports that persons in the eastern city of Goma had also confirmed that the internet was back. It remains to be known when the broadcast signal of French broadcaster, RFI and a local TV channel will be restored.
Amid the massive celebrations on the part of the Tshisekedi camp, pro-Fayulu supporters are protesting the defeat of their candidate.
Fayulu came second according to the results. He was leader of the Lamuka coalition, he has since called for the Catholic Church, SADC and AU to publish their versions of the results.