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Friday, January 18, 2019, 21:30
Congo rejects African Union demand to delay election result
By Agencies
Friday, January 18, 2019, 21:30 By Agencies

Spurned Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu greets supporters as he arrives at a rally in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan 11, 2019. (JEROME DELAY / AP)

KINSHASA, Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo has rejected an African Union demand to delay the announcement of final results from its disputed presidential election, the government said on Friday.    

The final tally for the Dec 30 election, which was marred by widespread violence and fraud allegations, is to be released once the Constitutional Court has ruled on challenges to the provisional results, including from opposition leader and election runner-up Martin Fayulu. The court's decision is expected later on Friday or Saturday.

But the African Union called after a meeting in Addis Ababa on Thursday for the final results to be postponed, adding to the turmoil in a post-election process meant to bring Congo’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence.

ALSO READ: African Union urges Congo to delay final election results

The AU said in a statement it would dispatch a delegation to Congo to seek "a way out of the post-electoral crisis".    

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said on Friday that while the AU delegation was welcome, the post-electoral process would not change as Kinshasa had the sovereign right to control it.    

Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil manager, requested a recount of the poll this week, saying he won by a landslide and that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with President Joseph Kabila to be declared the victor.

In leaked data published this week by some media outlets, attributed to the electoral commission and representing 86% of the votes, Fayulu won 59.4% while Tshisekedi received 19%

The electoral commission has said Tshisekedi won 38 percent of the vote and Fayulu 34 percent. However, results compiled by the influential Catholic Church's 40,000 election observers show Fayulu won easily with 61 percent.

In leaked data published this week by some media outlets, attributed to the electoral commission and representing 86 percent of the votes, Fayulu won 59.4 percent while Tshisekedi received 19 percent.

Fayulu, a lawmaker and businessman who is outspoken about cleaning up Congo's sprawling corruption, is widely seen as more of a threat to Kabila, his allies and their vast wealth. Tshisekedi, the son of charismatic opposition leader Etienne who died in 2017, is relatively untested and has said little since the election.

Congo's inauguration is set for Tuesday.

The election came after more than two turbulent years of delays as many Congolese worried that Kabila, in power since 2001, was seeking a way to stay in office. Barred from serving three consecutive terms, Kabila already has hinted he might run again in 2023.

All of the election results, not just in the presidential race, have been widely questioned after Kabila's ruling coalition won a majority in legislative and provincial votes while its presidential candidate finished a distant third.

Internet service was cut off in Congo the day after the vote to dampen speculation on the results. It still has not returned.

Election observers reported multiple problems, including the last-minute barring of some 1 million voters in the east, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola outbreak. That alone undermines the election's credibility, some observers said.

Fayulu asked the court to declare that the commission violated the constitution by not organizing elections in certain constituencies.

READ MORE: Congo's neighbors call for vote recount in troubled election

The court did not question the commission thoroughly enough in this week's hearing, warned the Synergy of Citizen Election Observation Missions, or SYMOCEL.

But for some Congolese who campaigned hard for Kabila to step aside, having an opposition figure take power is enough, despite questions about the vote.

Reflecting the yearning for stability after years of electoral unrest, 33 Congolese non-governmental groups and civil society movements on Thursday called on people to comply with whatever the court rules to "preserve the peace" in the interest of "national unity."

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