The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has conceded there were “mistakes” in last month’s elections, but rejected the finding of the Carter Center international observer group that the results lacked credibility.
Joseph Kabila, who won re-election in the ballot held on November 28, said on Monday the credibility of the elections was not in doubt.
“Were there mistakes? Definitely, but [the US-based Carter Center] has definitely gone far beyond what was expected,” Kabila told a news conference in the capital Kinshasa.
Results released by the election commission showed Kabila won the vote with 49 per cent while Etienne Tshisekedi, the opposition leader and his main challenger, took 32 per cent.
The ballot, marred by deadly violence, was the second since the country’s 1998-2003 war ended. The first election was held in 2006.
But the outcome was immediately rejected as fraudulent by Tshisekedi, with the Carter Center citing “impossibly high” turnout in Kabila strongholds and uncounted ballots in opposition bastions.
It said on Saturday the organisation of the ballot cast doubt on the reliability of the results.
Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege in Kinshasa said Kabila’s comments were prompted by the “huge and negative media coverage” of the elections.
“Something like 21 people have been reported dead. We’ve seen images of thousands of people fleeing the capital Kinshasa, and we’ve seen running battles between security forces and protesters,” she said.
“But what tipped the scale for the president was the report over the weekend by the Carter Center … that the election lacked credibility.”
Kabila, who came to power in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent, pointed to his own disappointing scores in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu as proof that the election process had been transparent.
Medard Mulangala, the DRC’s parliamentary opposition leader, told Al Jazeera that Kabila must start talking to his opponents if they are to find a way out of the deadlock over the compromised results.
“If nothing is being done, we run risk of having an institution without any legitimacy, and that’s where we are today,” he said.
“The least he [Kabila] can do is talk.”
‘We don’t have a crisis’
He said Tshisekedi’s self-declaration as poll winner was not a surprise.
“Am I uncomfortable with the results? Definitely not … We wanted to score better in some provinces, especially in North and South Kivu. So we lost some and we won some,” he said.
“We don’t have a crisis in this country … We’re going to stay calm and continue with the day-to-day activities of the state,” he said, reaffirming his confidence that the economy will see double-digit growth in the next two to three years.
Kabila’s comments came as the Catholic archbishop of Kinshasa criticised the results of the election.
“The results announced by the CENI [Independent National Electoral Commission] on December 9 comply with neither truth nor justice,” Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo told journalists.
Monsengwo appealed to Tshisekedi and the other 10 defeated presidential candidates to take their grievances to the supreme court, a move Tshisekedi has rejected.
He called on the court, which is charged with hearing election disputes and declaring the official winner on December 17, to act impartially.