Thu, Jan 10, 2019 - Page 6 News List

As election results delayed, suspicions of Congolese rise

AP, KINSHASA

Supporters of Congolese main opposition party the Union for Democracy and Social Progress react outside the party’s headquarters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

As the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) anxiously awaits the outcome of the presidential election, many in the capital, Kinshasa, have said that they are convinced the opposition won and that the delay in announcing results is allowing manipulation in favor of the ruling party.

Leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu in an interview on Tuesday said that the DR Congo’s electoral commission should “not play with fire, it is very dangerous,” and release the true results as quickly as possible.

Several dozen anti-riot police gathered outside the commission before midnight as it met to discuss the results compiled so far.

Since the vote on Dec. 30, the government has cut Internet service to prevent speculation on social media about who won and blocked some radio stations, but it cannot stop lively debate on the ground.

“We are the voters. We know who we have voted for and we know the opposition has won,” 55-year-old teacher Hubert Mende said.

“Only Martin Fayulu or Felix Tshisekedi’s names can be accepted. If the official result does not reflect the truth, there will be a crisis,” he added, as a crowd of two dozen people at a newsstand nodded.

False results would be taken as a “declaration of war against the people,” said Heritier Bono, 25, a motorcycle taxi driver. “The reaction will not be only in Kinshasa, it will be all over the country.”

The electoral commission on Sunday announced an indefinite delay in releasing the first results of the vote, frustrating many in a country that is rich in the minerals key to the world’s smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles.

The election itself was delayed for more than two years, sparking sometimes violent protests as people called on Congolese President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, to step aside.

Many have seen this election as the DR Congo’s first chance at a democratic, peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960, but the Congolese election observer Symocel on Tuesday reported “major irregularities,” including the disappearance of envelopes containing results from nearly 120 polling stations in Kinshasa, an opposition stronghold.

Amid fears of unrest in recent days, the US has deployed 80 military personnel to the region to protect US citizens and diplomatic assets in the DR Congo from possible “violent demonstrations.”

The DR Congo’s powerful Catholic Church has upped the stakes by saying that it found a clear winner from data compiled by its 40,000 observers deployed to all polling stations. Voting regulations prohibit anyone, but the electoral commission from announcing results. The church has urged the commission to announce accurate ones.

DR Congo’s ruling party responded angrily, calling the church’s announcement “anarchist,” and the electoral commission accused the church of “preparing an uprising.”

The church replied by saying that only the release of false results would incite an uprising.

“I am serene,” said church head Donatien Nshole, responding to the commission’s accusation that it breached regulations. “We said there was a winner, but we did not mention any name, or give any figures.”

Nshole confirmed that he on Friday met with Kabila for 45 minutes, after the church’s announcement.

“He insisted on the fact that he wants to maintain peace and unity,” Nshole said. “We want the same.”

This story has been viewed 2132 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top