The Constitutional Court of Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, January 20, 2019, ruled that Felix Tshisekedi, son of the late, charismatic opposition leader Etienne had won the presidential election, thereby rejecting a challenge from rival Martin Fayulu. In spite of this verdict, Martin Fayulu said he considered himself the “sole legitimate president-elect” of the country and urged the Congolese people not to recognise “any individual who would claim this authority illegally”.
I now consider myself as the sole legitimate President-elect of the #DRC. Therefore, I ask the Congolese people not to recognize any individual who would claim this authority illegally nor to obey orders that would emanate from such a person. #RDCVote #DRCElections pic.twitter.com/V2UaHm3A8L
— Martin Fayulu (@MartinFayulu) January 20, 2019
In view of this, Fayulu said his supporters should organise “non-violent protests all over the country to defend its sovereignty” but unfortunately the people of DRC did not come out to protest. Some of the citizens are okay with the result since it is no longer Joseph Kabila who is on the seat of authority.
However, DRC’s constitutional court is widely seen as loyal to Kabila, who has been in power since his father was assassinated in 2001. The supporters of Fayulu have also alleged an extraordinary backroom deal between outgoing President Joseph Kabila to rig the vote in favour of Tshisekedi when the ruling party’s candidate did poorly, but neither sides have acknowledged the accusations.
According to a leaked internal data seen by The Guardian, Fayulu won convincingly with about 60 percent of the votes cast. But the electoral commission insists that Tshisekedi won with more than 7 million votes or 38 percent, and Fayulu won with only 34 percent.
While all these are going on, the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), after being in support of a recount, have called on all Congolese to accept the vote’s outcome. Some African presidents, including presidents of Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa have also congratulated Tshisekedi.
Congratulations President-elect Tshisekedi on your victory in the recent General Elections. Your victory is a portrayal of the confidence of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in your ideals, leadership and vision for the future.
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) January 20, 2019
At a summit on Thursday, AU leaders said that there were “serious doubts” about the election figures and called for the final results to be delayed. But the government spokesman for DRC Lambert Mende responded to the demand saying: “I don’t think it is the business of the government or even of the African Union to tell the court what it should do.” It is also worthy to note that the African Union (AU), which was supposed to send a delegation to DRC on Monday, has now postponed the trip.
The election has baffled even the most seasoned watchers of the country because it was meant to give DRC its first democratic transfer of power after 59 years of independence from Belgium.
If the outcome of this election is disputed further, there could be a repeat of the violence that followed the 2006 and 2011 elections and a wider security breakdown, particularly along Congo’s borders with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.