Congo presidential runner-up asks court to order election recount

DR Congo

The request was filed on Friday ahead of a 48-hour deadline for any appeals against the shock result to replace long-term President Joseph Kabila.

Its approval of the election's results are critical for the legitimacy of president-elect Tshisekedi's new government.

Final results are expected to be announced by 15 January 2019.

Pro-Kabila parties had passed the 250-seat threshold required to secure a majority in the 500-seat national assembly, according to CENI.

About 130 seats went to opposition lawmakers, he said.

Democratic Republic of the Congo has been in the grip of a two-year political crisis triggered by Kabila's refusal to step down when his two-term constitutional limit expired at the end of 2016.

The situation has been tense in the capital since the country's electoral commission declared another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, the provisional victor of the December 30 election.

Opinion polls had flagged Fayulu as the clear favourite, although most observers predicted a result rigged in favour of Shadary.

SADC, which includes old Kabila allies Angola and South Africa, recommended a government of national unity including parties representing Kabila, Fayulu and Tshisekedi that could promote peace.

"Between them, they didn't get more than 40 percent".

The December 30 poll was supposed to mark Congo's first uncontested democratic transfer of power since the mineral-rich country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

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The result will undercut Tshisekedi's ability to deliver on campaign promises to make a break with the 18-year Kabila era and fuel suspicion that his victory, announced on Thursday, came through a backroom deal that will preserve Kabila's influence over important ministries and the security forces. "But we have faith", said Fayulu.

The commission's president has said there are two options: The official results are accepted or the election is annulled.

According to a Reuters witness, earlier in the day, about 50 Republican Guard soldiers and police officers surrounded Fayulu's residence, dispersing dozens of his supporters, who had been chanting against Kabila and Tshisekedi. The Catholic observers are widely reported to have concluded that Mr. Fayulu was the victor.

Further west in the mining town of Kolwezi, clashes broke out between Fayulu and Tshisekedi supporters that resulted in a number of injuries and arrests, Okapi radio reported. "He has already started work and now waits for the results to be confirmed".

The prime minister, in turn, must countersign presidential orders appointing or dismissing military chiefs, judges and heads of state-owned enterprises.

The European Union on Thursday said it was waiting for "the reactions of different observation missions that have observed the elections".

Tshisekedi is best known as the son of long-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in 2017 after spending decades as a thorn in the side of Mobutu Sese Seko, the military dictator who ruled the vast country from 1965 to 1997, and the Kabilas.

CENI chief Nangaa, speaking by video conference, pleaded for "the new authorities to be supported by the worldwide community".

At a special UN Security Council session on Congo Friday, the powerful CENCO Catholic bishops group, which enjoys widespread credibility across Congo, called on the global body to ask the country's electoral commission to release the records of vote-counting at the polling stations to allow for verification.

Analysts said it was likely Kabila had struck a deal with the 55-year-old opposition chief to avoid a violent backlash and the global condemnation that would have followed if Shadary had been declared victor.

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