Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Catholic Church rejects Congo vote result, loser decries 'coup'

Catholic Church rejects Congo vote result, loser decries 'coup'

The Catholic Church is widely venerated across the country of 80 million and is believed to have accurate election data gathered by a 40,000-strong team of election observers who tallied results displayed at individual polling stations.

Although he holds a Belgian diploma in marketing and communication, he has had little political or managerial experience with some detractors even suggesting his diploma is not valid.

Repeated delays in holding the election sparked deadly violence in the vast and poor nation, but Tshisekedi struck a conciliatory tone after his victory, urging the public to view long-term leader Joseph Kabila as a "partner of democratic change".

He took over from his assassinated father Laurent in 2001. "Felix Tshisekedi never got 7 million votes".

But the result was immediately denounced by his opposition rival, Martin Fayulu, the runner-up, who declared the announcement "an electoral coup".

Tshisekedi is the head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, a party founded by his father Étienne, who spent decades as the country's main opposition leader but died in February a year ago, when Tshisekedi junior took over.

"How long are we going to negotiate results?" he asked.

As the lengthy results were read out on nationwide television, police were deployed at strategic spots in the capital Kinshasa where, for the second evening running, many residents went home and locked their doors early.

France's foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian bluntly cast doubt on the official results, saying they did not match the findings of the Catholic Church's observers.

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Long in the shadow of his father, the late opposition leader Etienne, Mr Tshisekedi startled DR Congo previous year by breaking away from the unified opposition candidate Mr Fayulu to stand on his own.

The announcement of an opposition win was a shock as many had expected the results to be stacked in Shadary's favour, prompting heavy worldwide pressure on Kinshasa to respect the wishes of the electorate.

While bishops stopped short of publishing their own results or saying who they believed was the true victor, they made clear it wasn't Tshisekedi, as declared by election commission CENI.

"Canada takes note of the provisional results of the presidential election released by the Independent National Electoral Commission on January 10, 2019".

Careful statements by the global community did not congratulate Tshisekedi, merely taking note of official results and urging peace and stability in a country with little of it. Observers appeared to be watching for the reactions of Fayulu's supporters. He called on the Congolese people to "rise as one man to protect victory".

There was widespread speculation by analysts and politicians that Mr. Kabila negotiated a backroom power-sharing deal with Mr. Tshisekedi, allowing him to become president while Mr. Kabila continues to control key sectors such as the military and security agencies.

Violent scenes were reported in Kikwit, where at least two policemen and two civilians were said to have been killed.

Elected in 2006, Joseph Kabila secured another term in controversial elections in 2011.

The election's supervisors had faced mounting pressure at home and overseas to publish the results of the December 30 poll after repeated delays stoked fears for the giant country's stability.

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