The elections board in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, early Thursday declared a president-elect in what will become the first peaceful transition of power in the troubled country.
Felix Tshisekedi, 56, was named winner of hotly contested elections of December 30, 2018. Son of a deceased opposition veteran will take over from outgoing Joseph Kabila.
The provisional results by CENI showed that Tshisekedi got over seven million votes representing over 38% of valid votes cast. He beat another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, who came in second with about 35%.
Since the results were declared, there has been a series of reactions: victory celebrations in the capital Kinshasa, reported protests by Fayulu supporters and a diplomatic doubt as well as government and ruling party concession.
This LIVE page is to follow closely developments in the wake of the declaration.
Claims of Kabila – Tshisekedi plot: how true?
A number of people on social media are drawing conspiracy theories around the Tshisekedi victory, claiming that a deal must have been reached between the president-elect and the outgoing president.
The theorists hold that with the ruling party’s candidate clearly staring at defeat, Kabila opted for the lesser of two evils in the opposition camp, the CACH coalition.
The other camp led by Martin Fayulu – the Lamuka coalition – has two of Kabila’s political arch rivals in the persons of Moise Katumbi, a former governor of Katanga Province and Jean Pierre-Bemba – a former vice president.
Below are some of the claims about a Tshisekedi – Kabila “love story.”
Catholic Bishops say poll results ‘don’t add up’
The Catholic Church in DRC, CENCO, has reacted to the declaration of Felix Tshisekedi as president-elect of the country.
The church said results announced by the elections board, CENI, did not match with tallies it had through its observers.
CENCO had last week declared that its records from the vote showed that there was an outright winner from the December 30, 2018 elections. It’s declaration was slammed by CENI and the ruling coalition.
They did not mention who was the winner in their tallies but its widely believed to be Martin Fayulu who leads an opposition coalition, Lamuka. Fayulu has rejected the results and called for observers to publish their figures.
Internet restored after release of results
Internet has been restored across the country after a blackout that lasted over a week. Authorities justified the move and said it was to help avert the publication of fake results and compromising security.
People in the capital, Kinshasa, are now able to access the internet hours after the announcement of provisional results.
The BBC reports that persons in the eastern city of Goma had also confirmed that the internet was back. It remains to be known when the broadcast signal of French broadcaster, RFI and a local TV channel will be restored.
Amid the massive celebrations on the part of the Tshisekedi camp, pro-Fayulu supporters are protesting the defeat of their candidate.
Fayulu came second according to the results. He was leader of the Lamuka coalition, he has since called for the Catholic Church, SADC and AU to publish their versions of the results.
Brief about President-Elect Felix Tshisekedi
1 – Full name: Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, born on June 13, 1963 – aged 56
2 – Son of veteran opposition leader, late Etienne Tshisekedi. Dad founded Union for Democracy and Social Progress, UDPS, in 1982.
3 – In early twenties, went to Belgium for university education, later became national secretary for external affairs for the UDPS, based in Brussels.
4 – Father died in early 2017, UPDS picked Felix as party leader and by default presidential candidate.
5 – Joined and abandoned Lamuka coalition. Weeks later he announced a two-man coalition with Vital Kamerhe, the CACH coalition, in Nairobi.
6 – Declared president-elect after December 30, 2018 elections.
Statement from UN Secretary-General
The Secretary-General takes note of the announcement made by the Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI) of the provisional results of the 30 December presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
He commends the Congolese people and political actors for the conduct of the presidential, national and provincial legislative elections, which saw a broad and inclusive participation of political parties.
The Secretary-General calls on all stakeholders to refrain from violence and to channel any eventual electoral disputes through the established institutional mechanisms in line with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Constitution and relevant electoral laws.
The Secretary-General expresses the hope that the CENI, the Constitutional Court, the Government, political parties and civil society will each live up to their responsibility in preserving stability and upholding democratic practices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Secretary-General further reiterates the continued support and commitment of the United Nations, in collaboration with regional actors and international partners, for the consolidation of peace, stability and development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
New York, 9 January 2019
Results as released by CENI
1 – Monsieur Félix Antoine TSHISEKEDITSHILOMBO: 7,051,013 (38.57%.)
2 – Monsieur Martin FAYULU MADIDI: 6,366,732 (34.83%)
3 – Monsieur Emmanuel SHADARY: 4,357,359 (23.84%)
Voter turnout: 47.56%
Fayulu calls for publication of independent results
A fellow opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, has rejected the results of the December 30, 2018 which said he came in second behind president-elect Felix Tshisekedi.
In a statement from the coalition he led, Lamuka, he asked the Catholic Church and the regional SADC observer mission and the African Union to release their result tallies from the vote.
Meanwhile there are reports of protests in Fayulu strongholds given that his supporters insist that he was the duly elected candidate. The Catholic Church last week said its tallies showed that an outright winner had won.
Foreign media outlets later reported that the said candidate was Fayulu whose coalition included two barred aspirants and two other presidential aspirants.
France and Belgium shocked by results
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for clarity on the election results, saying the surprise victory of Felix Tshisekedi was at odds with what was seen on the ground.
“We must have clarity on these results, which are the opposite to what we expected. The Catholic Church of Congo did its tally and announced completely different results,” Le Drian told CNews.
His Belgian counterpart also expressed similar views: “We have some doubts that we need to check and which will be debated in the coming days in the Security Council,” Mr Didier Reynders told the Belgian national broadcaster, RTBF.
Kinshasa slams Paris doubts over results
DRC’s information minister, Lambert Mende, in his initial comments about the results said the ruling FCC coalition takes note of the results and that it was surprised but respected the work of the election board, CENI.
On the claims by French Foreign Minister, Mende said Kinshasa disapproved the words of Jean-Yves Le Drain.
He slammed what he claimed was interference which he said the FCC rejects. He chided the Minister to approve a President for the Congolese people if he wanted.
Tshisekedi supporters break loose in Kinshasa
‘Democracy has triumphed’ – Kabila’s top advisor
“Of course we are not happy as our candidate lost, but the Congolese people have chosen and democracy has triumphed,” one of outgoing Kabila’s top advisors has said.
Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi was reacting to the election results declared by CENI in the wee hours of Thursday.
The ruling coalition’s candidate and former Interior Minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, came in third in the December 30, 2018 long-delayed elections.
Tshisekedi pays homage to Kabila
“First of all I wish to thank God, the master of time and circumstances who allowed for such an event which a few weeks ago was still unimaginable.
“That is why I follow it directly with – and I know many of you find it hard to accept – but I say it with sincerity, I pay homage to President Joseph Kabila, President of the Republic.”
“Today, we must no longer consider each other as adversaries but rather as partners in democratic change in our country.” Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters in the capital Kinshasa, Tshisekedi said he would be the president “of all Congolese”.