DR Congo opposition candidate challenges presidential election result

Supporters of DR Congo’s defeated opposition candidate for the Presidential election Martin Fayulu gather at his rally in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jan. 11, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/HUGH KINSELLA CUNNINGHAM

Kinshasa, Jan 12 (efe-epa).- Lawyers of an opposition candidate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Saturday appealed before the Constitutional Court the outcome of a presidential election and requested a manual count of the votes.

Martin Fayulu claimed Friday he had prevailed over another opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, who was proclaimed the victor of the late December election by the Congolese electoral commission known as Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

«I demand a manual recount of all votes for the three elections (presidential and national and provincial legislative),» Fayulu posted to his Twitter account.

He added: «The results proclaimed by the CENI do not correspond to the truth of the ballot boxes. They were made from scratch.»

For its part, Fayulu’s own coalition Lamuka said that its candidate had won 61 percent of the vote to 18 percent for Tshisekedi.

The Congolese Constitutional Court has one week to decide if it will uphold or overturn the electoral results.

Meanwhile, Fayulu alleged governmental security forces loyal to the incumbent president Joseph Kabila had prevented him from attending the Constitutional Court in person to file the appeal.

«Kabila’s presidential guard penetrated inside my property today to prevent me from submitting my appeal at the Constitutional Court. Fear is still on their side,» Fayulu said in a video on his Twitter account.

According to the provisional results announced by CENI on Thursday, Tshisekedi came in first, getting 38.57 percent of the vote, followed by Fayulu, who earned 34.86 percent and then by pro-government candidate Emmanuel Shadary, who clocked in at 23.84 percent.

These figures have been questioned by the National Episcopal Conference of Congo, which claimed Thursday that results compiled by over 40,000 observers did not match the official numbers.

Meanwhile, CENI announced Saturday the result of the legislative elections, granting the parliamentary victory to the ruling party, with more than 250 deputies-out of a total of 500, with Fayulu’s Lamuka winning 59.

The Tshisekedi coalition earned less than 50 seats, so if his presidential electoral victory would be confirmed; he would not be able to appoint a prime minister without first achieving an alliance.

The presidential elections had been delayed for two years since Kabila’s term expired as the African country’s electoral commission claimed it was unable to hold elections due to technical difficulties.

Last month, the polls, initially set for Dec. 23, were postponed by a week after a fire destroyed thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes due to be used in Kinshasa.