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Great Lakes region throws its weight behind DR Congo vote recount

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu files a complaint over the election results at the Constitutional Court in Kinshasa, 12 January 2019.
Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu files a complaint over the election results at the Constitutional Court in Kinshasa, 12 January 2019. Photo: Stringer/AFP

The Great Lakes regional bloc on Sunday voiced its support for a recount of election results in the Democratic Republic of Congo to help “guarantee transparency” following complaints over the legitimacy of the declared results. The Great Lakes bloc joins the southern Africa regional bloc which has also said that a recount would “provide the necessary re-assurance”.

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A statement from President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, acting as chairperson of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), said the regional bloc “notes with great concern the expression of numerous disputes likely to compromise” the outcome of the 30 December presidential polls.

Sassou Nguesso said he “urges the authorities of the DRC to shed more light on all the elements of doubt that may discredit the electoral process”, according to the statement seen by RFI.

“He suggests that the relevant structures consider [re]counting votes in order to ensure transparency of results and to provide the necessary assurance to winners and losers,” said the communique from the president of the Republic of Congo on behalf of the ICGLR.

The leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, Felix Tshisekedi, was declared winner of the contentious Congolese presidential polls with more than 38 per cent of the votes.

However, the powerful Catholic Church has voiced its concern over the legitimacy of the results declared by the country’s electoral commission. It said that the provisional results did not tally with the unofficial tallies it carried out based on a 40,000-strong election observation mission, although it stopped short of declaring who it thought was winner.

Opposition challenger Martin Fayulu also called for a recount of the election results, saying that the tallies by the electoral commission did not “correspond to the truth of the polls”. He said a manual recount of the presidential, legislative and provincial polls must be carried out.

Regional reaction

The statement from the ICGLR followed a similar statement from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Sunday.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu issued a statement saying that SADC “feels a recount would provide the necessary re-assurance to both winners and losers”.

The Zambian president, acting as chairperson of SADC’s Organ for Politics, Defence and Security, said the regional bloc “encourages all stakeholders in the DRC elections to pursue a negotiated political settlement for a government of national unity”.

Lungu had met with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week before the declared results by the electoral commission. The two presidents had urged the speedy release of results to avoid suspicion and prevent compromising the peace and security of the country.

“I thank SADC for its request for a recount to proclaim the one who has truly and legally won,” said Fayulu in a tweet on Sunday. “It would be dangerous not to support the democratic process in the DRC,” he added.

Control of parliament

Despite being declared of the presidential polls, Tshisekedi does not command control of the country’s national assembly, according to legislative election results declared by the electoral commission.

The Common Front for the Congo (FCC), the pro-Joseph Kabila party, took nearly 350 seats in the Congolese parliament, RFI’s service Afrique reported.

The UDPS party took 49 seats representing some 10 per cent of the national assembly, calling into the question Tshisekedi’s ability to push his agenda through parliament.

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