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.
Fayulu accuses Kabila of making a backroom deal to declare as the winner opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, who came in a distant second according to the Catholic Church’s results. Kabila is suspected of such a deal to protect his vast assets from Fayulu’s anti-corruption efforts. Congo is a major source of the minerals central to smartphones and electric cars worldwide.
Congo’s electoral commission has said Tshisekedi won 38 percent of the vote and Fayulu 34 percent. It later announced that Kabila’s ruling coalition had won a majority in legislative and provincial elections, which would constrain any attempted reforms by Tshisekedi if he takes power.
Kabila met Sunday with the members of his coalition, announcing they would eventually reach out to the newly elected Tshisekedi for “cohabitation” in parliament.