- Regional powers hail president-elect
- AU, EU warn of doubts over result as runner-up kicks
Regional powers yesterday hailed Felix Tshisekedi, 55, as DR Congo’s incoming president despite claims by his opponents of an election stitch-up and the EU and African Union warning of doubts over the result.
The president-elect is the son of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi who died on February 1, 2017 at 84. Announcing the final results of the much-delayed poll, the country’s Constitutional Court threw out a challenge by runner-up Martin Fayulu in an overnight declaration. It declared Tshisekedi the winner, paving the way for him to take over from the country’s longtime leader Joseph Kabila, 47.
In a video message, Tshisekedi called for unity. “This is not a victory for one side or the other,” Tshisekedi said in a video message. The Congo we are going to build will not be a Congo of division, hate and tribalism, it will be a Congo that is reconciled, a strong Congo, looking towards development, peace and security for all.”
The election dispute has raised fears of fresh bloodshed in the vast and volatile central African nation. An EU spokeswoman pleaded for all sides to refrain from “any action that could lead to violence,” AFP reported. “As expressed by the AU (African Union) high level consultative meeting on Thursday in Addis, doubts remain regarding the conformity of the result,” she added. The chairman of the African Union (AU), Rwandan President Paul Kagame, is due in Kinshasa today after the AU questioned the election results.
But the 16-nation Southern African Development Community congratulated Tshisekedi yesterday for being declared president-elect and called for a peaceful handover of power. “The SADC reiterates the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC,” its chairman Hage Geingob, president of Namibia, said in a statement.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli and Tanzania’s President John Magufuli have congratulated Tshisekedi.
Fayulu has described the outcome of the vote as an “electoral coup”. He called for peaceful protests, though no major incidents were reported across the country yesterday. Fayulu has alleged that Tshisekedi promised to protect Kabila’s political and financial interests in return for helping to ensure his victory.
“I ask the entire international community not to recognise a power that has neither legitimacy nor legal standing to represent the Congolese people,” he said of Tshisekedi.