SADC urged to speak with one voice

It is unclear whether SADC supports a ballot recount in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

16 January 2019 | International

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been urged to speak with one voice on the current crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This comes amid contradictory statements flying thick and fast about whether or not SADC actually supports a recount of the DRC presidential election, with its organ on politics and security calling for such a recount while SADC chairman Hage Geingob yesterday tweeted that the regional body was following the situation with interest.

“A double troika will jointly convene, preceding a consultative meeting with the African Union on the same issue, on 17 January 2019, Addis Ababa,” Geingob said.

Political commentator Graham Hopwood told Namibian Sun it is important that SADC does not pretend that the DRC election was somehow legitimate. “A recount of both the presidential and parliamentary votes would be necessary, although it may be that the rigging has been so extensive that the result has to be annulled and new elections held,” Hopwood said. He further stressed that SADC needs to make it clear that it has a unified position on the recount and that it is not just its organ on politics and security, chaired by Zambia president Edgar Lungu, that is speaking on behalf of the entire body.

Lungu on Sunday issued a statement saying SADC had called for a recount of the DRC election results.

He also urged the political parties in the DRC to consider forming a government of national unity.

In another statement issued on Monday by Zambia's foreign ministry on behalf of Lungu, he said that SADC's efforts should be focused on reaching a negotiated political settlement through dialogue and inclusiveness. “An inclusive government could be the outcome of such negotiations.”

Lungu called on all parties to engage in dialogue, while recognising that there are legal processes, as provided for in the constitution.

“Therefore, any consideration for a recount or proposal on perceived irregularities should be left to the sovereign internal procedures of the DRC, as may be provided for in the law in the country,” Lungu said on Monday. Namibia is yet to officially pronounce itself on whether it supports a recount.

However, when asked on Monday about a possible recount, minister of international relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said: “There is nothing like that.”

While it was initially reported that South Africa had thrown its support behind the recount call, an official statement issued by the country's foreign ministry indicated otherwise.

The statement said that any outside interference in DRC processes might provoke violence and risked undermining the generally peaceful climate following the elections.

“Any outcome of the election process remains the sovereign right of the DRC. South Africa thus calls on all parties in the DRC, as well as the international community, to allow the internal constitutional mechanisms and legal processes to follow due course.” South Africa's foreign ministry said it would not pre-empt the internal DRC process by calling for a recount or prescribing what form of government should be installed.

The runner-up in the DRC presidential poll, Martin Fayulu, filed a fraud complaint with the DRC's highest court on Saturday, asking for a recount of the result which gave victory to another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi. Hearings into Fayulu's fraud complaint are due to open at the Constitutional Court today.


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