Tshisekedi declared victor of DRC presidential poll

Tshisekedi declared victor of DRC presidential poll

The outcome of DR Congo's tempestuous presidential election appeared to be headed for the courts Friday after the poll's runner-up said he would demand a recount.

In a pre-dawn announcement, the election commission named Tshisekedi, son of the country's late veteran opposition leader, as provisional victor of the bitterly-contested December 30 vote - a surprise result his main opponent promptly denounced as an "electoral coup".

But on Tuesday, the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said the panel hoped to complete the count within 48 hours. An outspoken campaigner against Congo's widespread graft - it ranked 161th among 180 countries in Transparency International's latest index - Fayulu denounced the official results as "robbery".

Vote tallies by Congo's Catholic Church had Favulu as the victor, according to two diplomats briefed on the findings.

"How long are we going to negotiate results?" asked Fayulu, of what he said was a deal made to declare Tshisekedi the victor. Fayulu asked earlier. "In 2006, Jean-Pierre Bemba's victory was stolen".

Spokesmen for Shadary and the other top opposition candidate, Felix Tshisekedi, have indicated that their candidates won.

Tshisekedi, who received more than 7 million votes, or 38 percent, according to the official results, had not been widely considered the leading candidate and is relatively untested.

Earlier Thursday the country's electoral commission presented a delayed provisional count, naming Tshisekedi the victor with 38.57 per cent of the vote.

Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission met all night and into Wednesday morning ahead of an announcement of results from the presidential election that could come later in the day.

It was not clear whether Fayulu would dispute the election results in court.

But Thursday's intervention by the Catholic Church could make it harder for him to win broad acceptance as the first leader to come to power through the ballot box since Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was overthrown in a coup less than three months after independence in 1960.

DR Congo has finally delivered the result of its much-delayed presidential vote, but the risk of an explosion of violence in this notoriously unstable nation remains high, analysts say.

Many noted that Fayulu's campaign suffered significantly more harassment than Tshisekedi's, and that the latter's rhetoric towards erstwhile enemies underwent a dramatic change in recent days.

The vast, mineral-rich Central African country is choosing a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001. He is barred from serving three consecutive terms, but until he announced previous year that he would step aside many Congolese feared he'd find a way to stay in office.

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

Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, one of Congolese President Joseph Kabila's top advisors, accepted on Thursday the loss of the ruling party's preferred candidate in a contentious election. "This is the beginning of national reconciliation".

He was barred from running for another term under the constitution, and was supposed to step down two years ago, but the election was postponed after the electoral commission said it needed more time to register voters.

"This is because a Tshisekedi presidency would be the least bad alternative to a Shadary victory for the regime as it would put a veil of legitimacy on the electoral process and would be more manageable than a Fayulu presidency", she said.

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