Congo opposition leader vows to challenge election results in court

Congo opposition leader vows to challenge election results in court
CNN image
Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu speaks to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa, Congo, Thursday Jan. 10, 2019.

Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu said Friday he will challenge the country’s election results in court as he accused presidential winner Felix Tshisekedi of taking a “dangerous shortcut to power.”

Fayulu told CNN the results from the December 30 vote are “not consistent with the truth” and vowed to go to court Saturday morning in the capital of Kinshasa.

He was widely expected to win the election but suffered a shocking defeat Thursday when the electoral commission for the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced Tshisekedi’s victory.

“The results … that my team compiled show that I won. The results from the Catholic Church show that I was leading in the poll,” he told CNN in a phone interview Friday.

“I will be going to the Constitutional Court tomorrow to file a case to recount the ballot, polling station by polling station, and to announce the results in the presence of witnesses.”

Fayulu admitted he was not certain the court would grant his request. “I’m not confident with the Constitutional Court, but I have to file the case and I have to push for them to recount,” he said. “I want to show the whole world and the Congolese people the evidence that I have won. They don’t want somebody to take the victory. They are behind me. They want change.”

In an earlier statement to CNN, Fayulu said Tshisekedi worked in cahoots with outgoing President Joseph Kabila to influence the polls at the “expense of the Congolese people.”

“Tshisekedi took a dangerous shortcut to power at the expense of the Congolese people that he pretended to defend,” Fayulu said in the statement.

“Kabila couldn’t manipulate the polls for his preferred candidate, so he went with Tshisekedi as a Plan B because (he was) seen as manipulable. (There’s) no long-term peace and stability with faulty institutions.”

Besides Tshisekedi and Fayulu, the other contender was former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, viewed as Kabila’s preferred successor.

An aide for Tshisekedi told CNN that he was not granting any interviews for now, while the Congo information and foreign ministries did not return calls seeking comment.

After this week’s announcement of the provisional results, Tshisekedi gave a speech thanking Kabila and calling him a “partner of the democratic change in power in our country.”

Fayulu maintains that Tshisekedi would be a continuation of the Kabila regime.

“Kabila will be directing everything and will be in charge. Tshisekedi just wants power and has colluded with Kabila against what the Congolese want.”

Congo’s Catholic Church criticizes outcome

The Congo’s Catholic Church also rejected the election results, saying they did not match data collected by its observers. It said it had deployed more than 40,000 observers to polling centers across the country.

“… From the analysis of the elements observed by this mission, we find that the results of the presidential election … do not correspond to the data,” the Catholic group known as the National Episcopal Conference of Congo said in a statement Thursday.

Mixed reaction to election results

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian joined the chorus of observers saying the results did not match what they witnessed during the vote count.

Mixed reactions have followed Tshisekedi’s win in the Congo.

While residents in Kinshasa took to the streets to celebrate, Fayulu’s supporters who protested Tshisekedi’s victory were dispersed by anti-riot police in Goma.

Congo’s presidential election results came after nearly two weeks of speculation and reports of irregularities.

If deemed legitimate, it would be the country’s first democratic transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Either way, the stage now seems set for the exit of Kabila, who has ruled the resource-rich nation with an iron fist since 2001.

Under the Congo’s Constitution, a president can serve only two terms, but Kabila’s second term expired in 2016. He had tried to change the constitution to extend his stay in office.