Congo presidential runner-up asks court to order election recount
The runner-up in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s disputed presidential election, Martin Fayulu, said Saturday that he had asked the country’s Constitutional Court to order a full recount.
Fayulu told CNN that Republican Guard soldiers and police had earlier surrounded his house and intimidated supporters who planned to accompany him to the court in the capital, Kinshasa.
“My lawyers, in order to avoid any surprises, decided to deposit the appeal files yesterday Friday 11th at 3:30 p.m. at the constitutional court. I have personally been there today at 3 p.m. in order to get back the receipt of filling, which is stamped as of 3:30 p.m., confirming that everything was done properly,” he said in a statement sent to CNN.
“My appeal is constructed such that we are requesting the electoral commission to recount all of the ballot votes.”
Fayulu suffered a surprising defeat Thursday when Congo’s electoral commission announced that another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, had won the December 30 vote.
In a phone interview with CNN earlier Saturday, Fayulu said he had called the UN secretary-general’s representative in the country, Leila Zerrougui, and that after that the Republican Guard soldiers started leaving.
“They want to intimidate me for the next stage. I think they don’t want people to be with me when I go to the court. Even if they are there, I will go,” he said.
Fayulu, who was widely expected to win the election, told CNN on Friday that he would challenge the results as they were “not consistent with the truth” and accused Tshisekedi of taking a “dangerous shortcut to power.”
In an earlier statement to CNN, Fayulu said Tshisekedi had worked in cahoots with outgoing President Joseph Kabila — who has ruled the resource-rich nation with an iron fist since 2001 — to influence the polls at the “expense of the Congolese people.”
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.
The United Nations, United States, France and Belgium, among others, have called for transparency and calm.
Besides Tshisekedi and Fayulu, the other contender was former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, viewed as Kabila’s preferred successor.
Mixed reactions have followed Tshisekedi’s win. While people in Kinshasa took to the streets to celebrate, Fayulu 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.
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.