Accept poll outcome

The Southern African Development Community has congratulated Felix Tshisekedi on his election as president of the DRC.

21 January 2019 | International

President Hage Geingob yesterday congratulated Felix Tshisekedi as the winner of the disputed Democratic Republic of Congo presidential elections, shortly after the constitutional court in that country rejected the opposition's challenge to the official poll results.

The ruling is a huge blow to opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who enjoys the backing of the West and the powerful Catholic Church in that country. Official figures published by the electoral commission gave Tshisekedi 38%, four points ahead of Fayulu, who has now called for fresh protests while maintaining that he was the legitimate victor of the 30 December vote.

Fayulu has also claimed that Tshisekedi, who was the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress party candidate, won the election by cutting a power-sharing deal with outgoing leader Joseph Kabila. In his capacity as SADC chairperson, Geingob said the people of DRC must accept the outcome.

“SADC calls upon all Congolese to accept the outcome, consolidate democracy and maintain a peaceful and stable environment following the landmark elections,” Geingob said in a statement yesterday.





“Furthermore, SADC calls upon all stakeholders to support president-elect Tshisekedi and his government in maintaining unity, peace and stability; and attaining social economic development in the DRC.

“SADC looks forward to a peaceful transfer of power to the president-elect.”

Geingob added that the regional bloc reiterated the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC.

The outcome of the DRC presidential elections has apparently divided African leaders. At its meeting held last week in Ethiopia to discuss the DRC issue, the SADC Double Troika Summit reaffirmed its commitment to continued support of DRC's political processes and to neutralising negative forces and other armed groups operating in te eastern part of that country.

The SADC Double Troika Summit subsequently issued a statement calling upon the international community to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC in accordance with the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act and the SADC Treaty.

However, the African Union in its statement on Thursday last week demanded that the DRC suspend the announcement of the final results after Fayulu and his supporters demanded a recount.

The AU said there were “serious doubts” over the outcome, and that heads of state and government agreed to “urgently dispatch” a high-level delegation to DRC with “the view to reaching a consensus on a way out of the post-electoral crisis”.

Yesterday, the DRC constitutional court said Fayulu's claims were “unfounded” and rejected his call for a recount as “absurd”.

However, according to international media Fayulu has rejected the court ruling, saying: “The constitutional court has just confirmed that it serves a dictatorial regime ... by validating false results, [and enabling] a constitutional coup d'etat.”



Violence fears

With Fayulu having declared himself president and calling for non-violent protests, a Namibian political commentator yesterday raised fears that the political tension in DRC could result in violence.

Ndumba Kamwanyah said Fayulu's persistence would make him look like a sore loser and it might backfire.

Kamwanyah added that it was clear that DRC's internal mechanisms, such as the constitutional court and the electoral body, had done a good job.

“There is no reason why Fayulu should not accept the outcome. You cannot take a case to court and expect it [to end] in your favour. It is definitely clear that violence will escalate in that country now that he has rejected the election results,” he said.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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