Monday, 14 October, 2019

Felix Tshisekedi: son, heir and president-elect

Delaying of DRC election results announcement increases likelihood of extension of president's mandate to March Congo braces for election results after commission meets overnight
Patty Aguilar | 10 January, 2019, 12:23

Mr Tshisekedi, who is the son of late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, has promised to make the fight against poverty his priority.

False results will be taken as a "declaration of war against the people", said Heritier Bono, 25, a motorcycle taxi driver. "Felix is more diplomatic, more conciliatory, more ready to listen to others".

Congo's ruling party responded angrily, calling the church's announcement "anarchist", and the electoral commission accused the church of "preparing an uprising". Anti-government protests in towns and cities are likely under such delays, but of smaller size and duration than would probably occur in response to the (less likely) immediate announcement of a victory by Kabila's chosen successor or the outright invalidation of the 30 December results, which would respectively pose high and very high protest and riot risks.

The Tshisekedi's victory is deeply controversial as pre-election polls had given outspoken opposition frontrunner Martin Fayulu, a respected former business executive, a healthy lead.

The opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party said on Tuesday that a meeting with its leader Felix Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila was being prepared to prepare for the handover of power.

It is not immediately clear if Mr Fayulu, who led in polling and warned against electoral manipulation, will contest the results. He is known as the "people's soldier" for leading protests against President Kabila. He said the delay is to "fudge the results" and warned that his coalition would release its own figures if the official ones are in doubt.

The UDPS described Tshisekedi as the presumptive victor with Secretary General Jean-Marc Kabund saying, "the two personalities have an interest in meeting to prepare for a peaceful and civilized transfer of power".

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The election in the DRC had been more than two years in the making. Western pressure likely has little effect, however, as Congo's government has rejected what it calls interference and expelled the European Union ambassador days before the vote.

The much-delayed election, which had been scheduled to take place in 2016, has been marred by speculation of voting fraud and irregularities.

The powerful religious institution deployed 40,000 election observers and is considered one of Congo's most influential and trusted institutions. The church has urged the commission to announce accurate ones.

The party behind the other top opposition candidate, Tshisekedi, said it suspects the electoral commission to be working in concert with Congo's ruling party under "purely political motivations". The church replied by saying that only the release of false results would incite an uprising. If confirmed, Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the Democratic Republic of Congo gained independence in 1960, BBC News reports.

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu speaks to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 10, 2019.

In a conference last week, the Church's bishops said that it knew the identity of the victor and demanded that CENI publish accurate results.

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