Felix Tshisekedi, an opposition leader whose victory in presidential elections last month is widely considered to be illegitimate, took the oath of office on Thursday vowing to tackle the country’s endemic corruption. Shortly after assuming power, Mr. Tshisekedi announced that he would free all the country’s political prisoners. Despite lingering accusations of vote fraud, neighboring countries, the United States and other foreign powers, eager to promote stability over potential chaos, hailed the first peaceful transfer of power since Congo’s independence, in 1960. On Wednesday, the United States’ State Department, having at first warned about sanctions for individuals accused of impeding the democratic process, struck a conciliatory tone and said it was “committed to working with the new government.”
Congo: The African Union called on Congo to suspend its election’s results. That’s unprecedented. | The Washington Post
After a contentious race, on Jan. 10, Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission pronounced Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the country’s Dec. 30 presidential elections. But polling data and parallel vote tabulations suggest it was“highly implausible” that Tshisekedi actually won, and the true winner was Martin Fayulu, who appealed the result. In an unprecedented response, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), headed by Zambian President Edgar Lungu, called for a recount last week and proposed that the DRC consider forming a national unity government. SADC is known for not publicly intervening in member state electoral affairs.
Congolese voters hungry for peace are ready to welcome President-elect Felix Tshisekedi to power, even if alleged election rigging may have led to his victory. “I am very happy with his designation as our democratically elected President-elect Felix Tshisekedi,” Hervé, a 30-year-old unemployed resident of Kinshasa, the capital, told VOA. “Since I was born, I have never witnessed a peaceful handover of power,” he added. Tonton Kasongo, 30, a hairdresser, echoed the desire for peace. “The way I see it, as a son of this land, I want peace for this country,” he told VOA. “Since we didn’t have any gunshots, we are happy, because the one who is elected is the one we are going to call ‘Dad.’ I voted Fayulu because he, too, is a son of this land. Since he did not win, he needs to be patient and wait for the next time around.”
The Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo ruled early Sunday on the results of the country’s highly contested election, determining that the opposition candidate Félix Tshisekedi was in fact the winner and rejecting a challenge from another opposition figure who was the runner-up. The court’s decision affirmed the results announced by the country’s electoral commission, which appointed Mr. Tshisekedi as the president-elect. He is set to be inaugurated on Tuesday. Martin Fayulu, the runner-up, was contesting the results and demanding a manual recount. The judges of the constitutional court said they had determined that the request for a recount was “absurd” and that Mr. Fayulu had not provided any proof of fraud. Mr. Fayulu said early Sunday that the court has “falsified and countered the truth of the polls to serve an unjust cause and perpetuate a regime that our people hate.” “I now consider myself the only legitimate president,” he added.
The African Union on Thursday called on Democratic Republic of Congo to suspend the release of the final results of its disputed presidential election due to its doubts over the provisional results. The rare move from the group injects fresh uncertainty into the post-election process, which was meant to usher in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence, but has been mired in controversy since the Dec. 30 vote. The final tally is scheduled to be released by the election commission once the constitutional court has ruled on challenges to the provisional results on Friday, but the union called for this to be postponed following a meeting in Addis Ababa.
Martin Fayulu was the clear winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections last month, a Financial Times analysis of two separate collections of voting data shows, contradicting claims from authorities that rival contender Felix Tshisekedi had won the historic vote. The analysis points to huge fraud in the first change of power since Joseph Kabila took over the presidency of the mineral-rich central African nation almost 18 years ago. It is likely to embolden critics of Mr Kabila who suspect the Congolese leader is seeking to cling on to power through a deal with Mr Tshisekedi. According to a trove of election data seen by the FT and representing 86 per cent of total votes cast across the country, Mr Fayulu won 59.4 per cent of the vote. Rival opposition candidate Mr Tshisekedi, who was declared the surprise winner last week, finished second with 19 per cent, according to this set of data.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s opposition leader Martin Fayulu was a clear winner in the central African nation’s December 19 polls, according to data obtained by the Financial Times. An FT analysis of two separate collections of data shows that Fayulu won the vote by at least 59.4% while president elect Felix Tshisekedi obtained 19% of the votes. The analysis points to huge fraud in the first change of power since outgoing President Joseph Kabila took over from his late father in 2001. According to the report, the election data is likely to embolden Kabila’s critics who have accused him of seeking to cling on to power through a deal with Tshisekedi.
Congo’s neighbors are calling for a vote recount in the disputed presidential election and suggesting the formation of a government of national unity to avoid possible instability. The statements by the southern African and Great Lakes regional blocs put new pressure on the government of outgoing President Joseph Kabila to find a peaceful and transparent solution to a growing electoral crisis in one of Africa’s largest and most mineral-rich nations. The declared presidential runner-up, Martin Fayulu, filed a court challenge over the weekend demanding a recount, citing figures compiled by the influential Catholic Church’s 40,000 election observers that found he won 61 percent of the vote.
Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu on Saturday asked the country’s constitutional court to order a recount of the Dec. 30 presidential vote to find a successor to President Joseph Kabila. The Central African nation is still reeling from the surprise announcement Wednesday that another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, had won the election. Mr. Kabila’s handpicked candidate came in third. Police and members of Mr. Kabila’s presidential guard on Saturday blocked many supporters of Mr. Fayulu from reaching the constitutional court, where his lawyers entered a petition for a manual recount of the presidential election. “I will take this to the very end. I won’t accept that my victory is stolen,” Mr. Fayulu said.
Congo: Election Officials Say Felix Tshisekedi Won Election, Rebuffing Independent Review | The New York Times
Congolese election officials, rejecting independent assessments that a prominent opposition figure was the runaway winner of the recent presidential election, on Thursday bestowed victory on a candidate considered more acceptable to the departing President Joseph Kabila. The decision dashed hopes that the Democratic Republic of Congo might experience its first undisputed transfer of power by…
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.
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. Riot police were deployed in front of the commission headquarters in the capital Kinshasa and along the city’s main boulevard, as Congo braced for possible violence amid accusations of vote fraud and suspicions that the government was negotiating a power-sharing deal with one opposition candidate. The Dec. 30 poll was meant to lead to the vast Central African country’s first democratic transfer of power in its 59 years of independence, but a disputed result could trigger the kind of violence that erupted after the 2006 and 2011 elections and destabilize Congo’s volatile eastern borderlands. The electoral commission (CENI) announced on Tuesday evening that it had initiated “a series of evaluation meetings and deliberations, at the end of which it will proceed to the publication of provisional results from the presidential election”.
Preliminary results from Democratic Republic of Congo’s tumultuous presidential election will be delayed past Sunday’s deadline, the head of the election commission has said. The announcement on Saturday has prompted fears the vote result could be manipulated, with analysts saying prolonged uncertainty could trigger deadly clashes, similar to the violence that broke out in the central African country after the 2006 and 2011 elections. The commission, known as CENI, had received only 47 percent of vote tally sheets as of Saturday, its president, Corneille Nangaa, told the Reuters news agency. It not yet clear when the results would be ready, he said, adding: “It will not be possible to announce the results tomorrow.”
Standing on a chair in a shabby classroom, a technician peels the plastic off the end of a cable with his teeth and attaches it to some exposed wires that dangle around a light bulb. “Soon the machine will work again,” he says cheerfully to a queue of voters, most of whom have waited for more than five hours. Across Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, hundreds of voting machines did not work on polling day, December 30th. The electronic tablets, nicknamed machines à voler (stealing machines), did little to redeem their dodgy reputation. A lot of voters, unfamiliar with touchscreen technology, struggled to use them. Officials from the electoral commission, widely believed to be in President Joseph Kabila’s pocket, offered unsolicited help. Observers feared they were nudging people to vote for the president’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.
Congo: Warning of ‘Fictitious’ Election Results Online, Congo Cuts Internet for 2nd Day | The New York Times
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government cut internet connections and SMS services across the country for a second straight day on Tuesday as the country nervously awaited results from the weekend’s chaotic presidential election. Both the opposition and ruling coalition said on Monday they were on track to win after a turbulent Election Day on Sunday, in which many Congolese were unable to vote because of an Ebola outbreak, conflict and logistical problems. Barnabé Kikaya bin Karubi, a senior adviser to President Joseph Kabila, said internet and SMS services were cut to preserve public order after “fictitious results” began circulating on social media. “That could lead us straight toward chaos,” Mr. Karubi said, adding the connections would remain cut until the publication of complete results on Jan. 6.
Fears of electoral fraud are rising in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after officials said a total block on internet connections and SMS services imposed after the chaotic presidential poll on Sunday could last for several days. Both the opposition and ruling coalition have claimed victory in the elections – the third poll since 2002 and the end of a civil war in which millions died. The election, which some observers hope may bring a measure of political stability to the vast central African country, was marred by widespread logistics problems, insecurity and an outbreak of Ebola. Millions were left unable to vote. Barnabé Kikaya Bin Karubi, a senior adviser to the outgoing president, Joseph Kabila, said internet and SMS services were cut on Monday to preserve public order after “fictitious results” began circulating on social media. “That could lead us straight toward chaos,” Kikaya told Reuters, adding that the connections would remain cut until the publication of preliminary results on 6 January.
A presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to take place on Sunday has been delayed until 30 December, the country’s electoral commission has announced, citing problems caused by a recent fire that destroyed 80% of the voting machines in the capital, Kinshasa. The delay to the election, already postponed repeatedly since 2016, will anger supporters of the DRC’s fractured opposition and dismay observers who hoped it would bring a measure of security to the country. It is also likely to raise tensions and could prompt significant protests. Corneille Nangaa, the head of the electoral commission, said officials have found enough voting machines for Kinshasa but had to get 5 million new ballots printed. Nangaa called on the country of some 40 million voters for calm.
What’s an election campaign without shaking hands with potential voters? Congolese candidates in the thick of an Ebola outbreak, now the second deadliest in history, are finding out in uncomfortable ways. Jaribu Muliwavyo seeks another term as provincial deputy in North Kivu, the restless center of the outbreak. He’s sad when he arrives in communities and isn’t permitted to greet traditional chiefs properly, with a warm clasp of hands. “They take that as an insult,” Muliwavyo told The Associated Press. This election, he mused, is “a real puzzle.” The current Ebola outbreak is like no other, and it promises trouble for Congo’s presidential election on Sunday. Unrest by dozens of rebel groups in this Central African nation with 40 million voters already posed a challenge to the long-delayed vote. Then Ebola, a deadly virus spread via contact with infected bodily fluids, emerged in a part of eastern Congo that had never seen it before.
When one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s leading opposition presidential candidates campaigned in the mining town of Lubumbashi last week, security forces reportedly sprayed his convoy with tear gas and live ammunition, leaving at least three people dead. Martin Fayulu was heading from the airport towards the city centre surrounded by thousands of supporters, when the clash took place. The next morning the shells of burnt out vehicles littered the tree-lined streets and torn ruling-party campaign posters flapped in the wind. “First we felt the tear gas, and then they fired shots,” Mr Fayulu told the Financial Times in an interview in Lubumbashi. “How can we continue campaigning in this atmosphere?” Congo’s elections next Sunday are set to be historic — the country’s first transition of power by the ballot box as President Joseph Kabila steps down after 17 years in office. But Mr Fayulu’s experience has raised fears they will be far from democratic.
Democratic Republic of Congo goes to the polls this week in elections which could see the country emerge from 17 years of conflict-ridden rule under controversial President Joseph Kabila. Twenty-one candidates are running to replace Kabila, whose hand-picked successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary is one of the front-runners. At stake is the political stewardship of a mineral-rich country that has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. More than 40 million voters will cast their ballots on Sunday to choose a successor to 47-year-old Kabila, who has ruled the nation since the assassination of his father in 2001. In a sign of growing international concern about the risk of violence, the United States on Friday ordered its non-essential staff to leave its embassy in the capital Kinshasa.
A fire has destroyed much of an election commission warehouse in Kinshasa as tensions rise in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with just 10 days to go before historic presidential elections which could see the country’s first-ever democratic transition of power or bring further instability and violence. The fire damaged thousands of controversial new voting machines and has stoked fears the poll will be undermined by logistic challenges and fraud. Barnabé Kikaya bin Karubi, a presidential adviser, blamed unidentified “criminals“ for the blaze, which destroyed about 7,000 of the 10,000 voting machines due to be used in the capital, Kinshasa, but said preparations for the 23 December election were continuing. Kikaya said police guarding the warehouse – located in the upscale and usually secure Gombe riverside area of Kinshasa – had been arrested but made no further comment on what or who might have caused the blaze. Opposition supporters claimed the fire was the result of arson and accused Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, of seeking an excuse to postpone the poll.
An early-morning fire in Congo’s capital destroyed thousands of voting machines just 10 days before the presidential election, officials said Thursday, saying the blaze appeared to be criminal in nature but vowing that it would not disrupt the vote. Congo’s first use of voting machines on Dec. 23, a rarity in Africa, has caused concerns among the opposition, diplomats and experts about possible manipulation in favor of President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor. Kabila is stepping aside after taking power in 2001. The electoral commission said the fire broke out at a warehouse in Kinshasa, adding that it was too early to declare the cause or the extent of the damage.
It was the number of unidentified bodies bearing signs of torture arriving at the morgue that made Cherie*, a nurse at Kinshasa’s General Hospital, get involved in politics. As part of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress Party (UDPS), the main opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), she handed out leaflets and took part in protests. In December 2009, the 20-year-old was arrested after attending a memorial service for activists who had been killed. For two weeks she was kept in the detention centre of the Rapid Intervention Police (Police d’intervention rapide, PIR).
The long-delayed and long-awaited race for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) presidency shifted into a new gear this week with the official launch of the candidates’ electoral campaigns. Exactly a month from now, some 40 million people, about half of the resource-rich country’s population, are expected to finally elect a new president after two years of postponements, uncertainty and turmoil. Outgoing President Joseph Kabila has controversially remained in office even though his second consecutive and final constitutional term officially expired in 2016. While Kabila insisted the election delays were due to challenges enrolling millions of voters and financial constraints, his refusal to step down sparked violent rallies in which dozens of protesters were killed.
A deadly Ebola outbreak grows. Rebels kill civilians in the streets. And yet the arrival of voting machines in this troubled corner of Congo has some especially worried as a long-delayed presidential election promises further upheaval. The machines now arriving by the thousands in this Central African nation are of such concern that the U.N. Security Council has come calling, the United States has issued warnings and opposition supporters on Friday plan a national protest. As Congo faces what could be its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power, fears are high that the more than 100,000 voting machines will be ripe for manipulation. They also could pose a technical nightmare in a sprawling nation of more than 40 million voters where infrastructure is dodgy – just 9 percent of Congo has electricity – and dozens of rebel groups are active. … Now attention turns to the voting machines, made by South Korean company Miru Systems, that security researchers say are vulnerable to rigging and print codes that include ballot-specific information that could strip away voters’ anonymity. The researchers include experts from Argentina, which rejected the company’s machines after learning of the issues.
Thousands of opposition supporters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Friday rallied against the use of voting machines in the country’s upcoming election. In a rare move, President Joseph Kabila’s government authorised the protest although security forces were deployed throughout the capital Kinshasa and various other cities. However, unlike previous protests, which have ended in deadly violence, Friday’s demonstration passed without incident. Tension ahead of the DRC’s long-awaited presidential election is high, following the electoral commission’s decision to bar former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba and regional baron Moise Katumbi from running. Bemba is among the opposition politicians calling upon supporters to rally against what he described as “the greatest electoral fraud ever with electronic machines that have not been tested anywhere in the world.”
Opposition parties from the Democratic Republic of Congo say that they will decide on one joint candidate for December’s presidential elections. After meeting in South Africa, seven parties agreed to name the candidate by the 15 November. Correspondents say it would be surprising if all the opposition candidates stick to the agreement. The election should result in DR Congo’s first democratic transition of power.
A deadly Ebola outbreak grows. Rebels kill civilians in the streets. And yet the arrival of voting machines in this troubled corner of Congo has some especially worried as a long-delayed presidential election promises further upheaval. The machines now arriving by the thousands in this Central African nation are of such concern that the U.N. Security Council has come calling, the United States has issued warnings and opposition supporters on Friday plan a national protest. As Congo faces what could be its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power, fears are high that the more than 100,000 voting machines will be ripe for manipulation. They also could pose a technical nightmare in a sprawling nation of more than 40 million voters where infrastructure is dodgy — just 9 percent of Congo has electricity — and dozens of rebel groups are active. “We cannot accept people inventing stories that trample our constitution,” said Clovis Mutsuva, a Beni resident with the LUCHA activist organization, which has tweaked the French term “machines a voter” into “machines a voler,” or “machines to steal.”
Congo’s deputy prime minister said on Saturday that tablet-like voting machines for December’s election had been made to order and will finish arriving this month, despite suspicions by diplomats and the opposition that they may enable fraud. President Joseph Kabila is due to step down after 17 years in power after a long-delayed vote scheduled for Dec. 23 to choose his successor. The election, which was meant to happen before Kabila’s mandate expired in 2016, had been delayed for so long that many doubted it would happen. If it goes ahead, it will be Democratic Republic of Congo’s first peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. This year, crucial milestones of the calendar — such as candidate registration — have been passed on time.
The United Nations Security Council has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission to open dialogue on the use of voting machines for December elections. French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who co-headed a delegation with ambassadors from Bolivia and Equatorial Guinea, said on Sunday the security council wants the commission to consider a “broad consensus”. Voting machine use has been disputed by some presidential candidates and opposition leaders.