Monday, 25 March, 2019

Congo riot police deploy at electoral commission ahead of vote result

No announcement yet on DRC election results Delaying of DRC election results announcement increases likelihood of extension of president's mandate to March
Jeannette Daniel | 10 January, 2019, 06:34

Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission on Thursday declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the victor of a disorganised and contentious December 30 presidential election.

An AFP photographer said armed police were blocking the boulevard in front of the CENI headquarters.

Joining us now to discuss the DRC election is Willy Linga from Lamuka, whose presidential candidate is Martin Fayulu.

The country is in flux over a thrice-delayed presidential vote, with the announcement of official results now postponed, stoking suspicions of rigging.

"The two figures have an interest in meeting to prepare a peaceful and civilised transfer of power", said UDPS secretary general Jean-Marc Kabund.

Anti-government protests in towns and cities are likely under such delays, but of smaller size and duration than would probably occur in response to the (less likely) immediate announcement of a victory by Kabila's chosen successor or the outright invalidation of the 30 December results, which would respectively pose high and very high protest and riot risks.

However, Fayulu's supporters believe outgoing President Joseph Kabila plans to rig the vote in favour of his hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, or alternatively do a power-sharing deal with Félix Tshisekedi, head of the DRC's main opposition party.

Many have seen this election as Congo's first chance at a democratic, peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960.

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Talk of a possible rapprochement between the UDPS and Kabila was also fuelled after Tshisekedi told Belgian newspaper Le Soir the president could be honoured for his behaviour after stepping down.

A new U.S. Embassy security alert says Congo's electoral commission is soon expected to announce results of the presidential election.

On Tuesday, Fayulu and six other presidential candidates issued a statement saying that the results "cannot be negotiated".

The other main opposition candidate, former oil executive Martin Fayulu - who was tipped as favourite in the few pre-election opinion polls - also sounded a conciliatory tone on Tuesday.

After deploying tens of thousands of its own election observers, the powerful Catholic Church last week said it knew the outcome of the ballot and called on the authorities to reveal the result "in keeping with truth and justice".

The Roman Catholic church, a powerful institution in this devout country, has announced a clear victor in the vote but so far refrained from saying who it thought had won. Congolese activist groups are urging people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the commission does not publish results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes".

More than one million people were kept from voting on election day because of an Ebola outbreak and militia violence in opposition strongholds, mainly in DRC's east. FCC has accused Fayulu of trying to put pressure on the CENI. The constitution is clear - he (as former president) will be a senator for life.

Optimists hope the election, which passed off mostly peacefully, could chart a road to a better future, but any widespread perception of electoral fraud could set off a destabilising cycle of unrest, repeating violence that followed elections in 2006 and 2011.

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