Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi won last week’s chaotic elections by a wide margin, defeating other candidates with 73.34% of the vote, according to electoral officials on Sunday. However, hours before the announcement the president’s victory was questioned by opposition parties, who alleged fraud and encouraged his followers to protest in the streets.
“Candidate number 20, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, has been provisionally elected,” the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) insisted amid cheers and applause from the audience gathered at the vote counting center set up in the capital Kinshasa. Kadima. According to the organization, the incumbent president received more than 13 million votes out of 18 million valid ballots cast. According to Kadima, turnout in the disputed elections reached approximately 43%.
Tshisekedi, who was seeking a second five-year term as head of state, thus comfortably won against the 18.08% support received by his main rival, businessman and former governor of the former province of Katanga (South), Moise Katumbi. Have achieved victory. , and opposition leader Martin Fayulu’s 5.33%.
However, a group of main opposition presidential candidates, including Katumbi and Fayulu, this Sunday called on their supporters to take to the streets to protest after the provisional results. “We unequivocally reject the electoral farce and its consequences,” they said in a joint statement. Opposition leaders demanded that new elections be held at a date agreed upon by all with a new electoral body. “We call on our people to take to the streets en masse following the announcement of electoral fraud,” he said. The Congolese government had earlier rejected the demand for re-election.
The candidates who launched the call – which also included gynecologist and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Denis Mukwege, according to local media – asked citizens to organize against the “thieves” of their votes, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission. It was disclosed hours later by the Central Government (CENI) and should be validated by the country’s Constitutional Court in January.
Approximately 44 million people (out of the country’s more than 100 million inhabitants) were convened on the 20th to exercise their democratic right at 75,000 polling stations to vote in presidential, legislative, provincial and local elections. The elections were marred by delays, logistical problems and allegations of irregularities by the opposition, which has called for the vote to be canceled and rerun.
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The influential Congolese National Episcopal Conference (CENCO), which monitored the elections, indicated last Thursday that there were “numerous cases of irregularities” that could alter the results “in some places”. The elections were held on Wednesday last week and were extended to Thursday in areas where voting was delayed or disrupted due to logistical challenges, but the truth is that in some of those places the elections will be held this Monday. Continue till. The delay was mainly due to last-minute arrival of election material at polling stations.
One of Africa’s most populous countries, the DRC has vast mineral wealth (including vast reserves of cobalt, key to making electric vehicle batteries), but much of its territory has poor infrastructure. The elections also took place under the shadow of conflict between dozens of armed groups and the army in the east of the country and amid a new escalation of fighting by the rebel March 23 Movement (M23) in the eastern province of Kivu. .From the north.
Tshisekedi came to power in 2019 after elections that were questioned by the opposition but represented the country’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. Despite the complex international situation, he is credited with the country’s economic growth. And its desire, expressed through a number of gestures, to stabilize the Great Lakes region that has been affected for decades by the violence of dozens of armed groups. In this context, Tshisekedi has launched a campaign of condemnation against his neighbor Rwanda, which he accuses of funding M23, one of the main rebel groups. The struggle is not over yet. International power intervention by countries in the region has proven to be an inadequate effort to achieve the desired peace. According to the World Bank, economic development has not succeeded in lifting 60% of Congolese people out of the extreme poverty in which they live.
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