Tshisekedi secures second term as Congo’s president amid opposition protests

Tshisekedi secures second term as Congo’s president amid opposition protests

Election commission announces Tshisekedi’s victory with 70% of the vote

Congo’s election commission (Ceni) declared President Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the Dec. 20 presidential election with more than 70% of the vote. The preliminary results were announced on Sunday in the capital, Kinshasa, amid calls from the opposition and civil society groups for the vote to be rerun due to logistical problems they said had undermined the balloting.

Tshisekedi, who took office in 2019 after a disputed election, faced two main challengers: Martin Fayulu, a former oil executive who came second in the 2018 vote, and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the candidate of the ruling party and the hand-picked successor of former President Joseph Kabila.

According to Ceni, Tshisekedi received 7 million votes, Fayulu 6.4 million, and Shadary 4.4 million. The turnout was reported to be 48%.

Fayulu rejects the results and claims fraud

Fayulu, who had claimed a clear win of more than 60% based on his own tally, rejected the results and accused Tshisekedi and Kabila of striking a secret deal to cheat him out of the presidency. He called the results an “electoral coup” and urged his supporters to take to the streets to demand a recount.

Fayulu also filed a petition to the constitutional court, which is the highest judicial authority in the country, to annul the results and order a new election. He said he had evidence of irregularities and fraud, including ballot stuffing, vote buying, and intimidation.

Fayulu’s allegations were backed by the influential Catholic Church, which deployed more than 40,000 observers across the country and said that the results did not match the data collected by its monitors. The church did not name a winner, but said it knew who had won and urged Ceni to publish the truth.

Tshisekedi secures second term as Congo’s president amid opposition protests

Tshisekedi denies any deal with Kabila and calls for unity

Tshisekedi, who is the son of the late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, denied any deal with Kabila and said he was the legitimate winner of the election. He said he had fulfilled the aspirations of the Congolese people, who had long suffered from poverty, corruption, and violence under Kabila’s 18-year rule.

Tshisekedi also called for unity and reconciliation, and paid tribute to Kabila for allowing a peaceful transfer of power. He said he would work with all the political forces in the country, including the opposition, to build a new Congo that respects democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Tshisekedi’s victory was welcomed by some regional and international leaders, who congratulated him and urged all the parties to respect the verdict of the voters and the constitutional process. However, some countries, such as France, Belgium, and the United States, expressed doubts about the credibility of the results and called for transparency and dialogue.

Congo faces uncertainty and instability as the court reviews the results

The constitutional court, which is widely seen as loyal to Kabila, has 10 days to examine Fayulu’s petition and confirm or invalidate the results. The court has the power to order a recount or a new election, but it has never overturned the results announced by Ceni in the past.

The court’s decision is likely to be decisive for the future of Congo, a vast and mineral-rich country that has never experienced a peaceful and democratic transition of power since its independence from Belgium in 1960.

If the court upholds Tshisekedi’s victory, he will face the challenge of governing a deeply divided and volatile country, where armed groups control large parts of the territory and millions of people are displaced by conflict and hunger. He will also have to deal with a hostile parliament, where Kabila’s coalition has a majority, and a skeptical opposition, which may not accept his legitimacy and may continue to protest.

If the court annuls the results and orders a new election, the country may plunge into a prolonged political crisis and violence, as the electoral process has already been marred by delays, controversies, and insecurity. The new election may also face the same problems of credibility and transparency, and may not resolve the dispute.

The Congolese people, who have endured decades of dictatorship, war, and poverty, are hoping for a peaceful and democratic outcome that will respect their will and improve their lives. They are also appealing for the support and solidarity of the international community, which has a stake in the stability and development of Congo.

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