Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s main opposition party, has been declared the surprise winner of the 30 December presidential election in the vast central African country.
The result, announced early on Thursday, means the first electoral transfer of power in 59 years of independence in the DRC.
It will come as a shock to many observers who believed authorities would ensure that the government candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, would be the victor in the polls, the third since the end of a bloody civil war in 2002. Shadary was hand-picked by outgoing president Joseph Kabila to succeed him.
In addition, pre-election polls had given outspoken opposition frontrunner Martin Fayulu, a respected former business executive, a healthy lead.
Polls had put Fayulu on 47%, at least 20 points ahead of Tshisekedi. Vote tallies compiled by the DRC’s Catholic church found Fayulu clearly won the election, two diplomats told Reuters, raising the spectre of protests that many fear could lead to violence.
Fayulu’s supporters feared Kabila would rig the vote in favour of his hand-picked candidate, or do a power-sharing deal withTshisekedi, head of the DRC’s main opposition party.
Fayulu immediately rejected the result, which he called an “electoral coup”.
“Where did the extra seven million votes come from [for Tshisekedi’s victory]? In 2019, we refuse that the victory of the people be stolen once more,” he said.
“These results have nothing to do with the truth at the ballot box,” he told Radio France International.
Riot police were deployed outside the offices of the DRC’s election commission and elsewhere in the capital, Kinshasa.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said he “takes note” of the announcement and urged all parties to “refrain from violence and … to channel any electoral disputes through the established institutional mechanisms.”
The opposition was weakened by internal arguments and the exclusion by the electoral commission of two political heavyweights: Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former warlord, and Moïse Katumbi, a popular tycoon.
SRC: The Guardian