France and Belgium are challenging the outcome of the Democratic Republic of the Congo‘s presidential election, with France’s foreign minister saying the declared victory of opposition chief Felix Tshisekedi was “not consistent” with the results and that his rival Martin Fayulu appeared to have won.
In remarks made just hours after the provisional results were announced on Thursday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tshisekedi’s opposition rival Fayulu, who was declared the runner up, should have been declared the winner.
“It really seems that the declared results … are not consistent with the true results,” he told France’s CNews channel. “On the face of it, Mr Fayulu was the leader coming out of these elections.”
He said DR Congo’s powerful Catholic Church, which deployed more than 40,000 observers to monitor the elections, knew who had really won the vote with their observations suggesting a win for Fayulu.
“CENCO (National Episcopal Conference of the Congo) carried out an inspection and declared a result which was totally different,” he said, referring to the body representing the country’s Catholic bishops.
In a statement released on Thursday, the church said that “the results of the presidential election published by (the electoral commission) do not match those collected by our observer mission.”
The African Union called for any dispute over the Democratic Republic of Congo’s election result to be resolved in a peaceful manner, through dialogue.
“It is important that any disagreement over the proclaimed results, notably that they did not reflect voters’ wishes, be resolved peacefully, by turning to the relevant laws and through political dialogue between the parties involved,” read a statement from the office of AU head Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Belgium to raise results in UNSC
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also cast doubt on the election result, saying his country would use its temporary seat on the UN Security Council to seek clarification about Tshisekedi surprise victory.
“We have some doubts that we need to check and which will be debated in the coming days in the Security Council,” Reynders, whose country was Congo’s former colonial power, told Belgian public broadcaster RTBF.
TheDRC’s electoral commission on Thursday declared opposition leader Tshisekedi the winner of last month’s chaotic presidential election, but the runner-up dismissed the outcome as an “electoral coup”.
Last week, CENCO said it knew the outcome of the contested December 30 vote and urged the electoral commission to publish the results “in keeping with truth and justice”.
Although it did not name the winner, its announcement drew a sharp rebuke from the ruling coalition.
The provisional results were announced earlier on Thursday, putting Tshisekedi on course to take over as president, replacing President Joseph Kabila who ruled the nation for nearly 18 years.
In a country which has never known a peaceful handover of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, Le Drian called for calm.
“It is crucial to keep calm, to avoid confrontations and to ensure there is clarity about the results which are the opposite of what we expected, of what was projected,” he added.
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the hand-picked candidate of long-time President Joseph Kabila, was third with about 4.4 million votes.
Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, one of Kabila’s top advisers, accepted the loss of the ruling party’s preferred candidate.
“Of course we are not happy as our candidate lost, but the Congolese people have chosen and democracy has triumphed,” Kikaya told Reuters news agency shortly after Tshisekedi was declared the winner.
The announcement of Tshisekedi’s victory came hours after the riot police were deployed at the commission’s headquarters in Kinshasa amid fears of violence due to the disputed result.
Election observers reported a number of irregularities during the vote and the opposition alleged it was marred by fraud.
The result could lead to the vast country’s first democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960, with Kabila due to leave office this month after 18 years in power – and two years after the official end of his mandate.