Election runner-up Martin Fayulu rejects DR Congo poll result

Martin Fayulu a former oil tycoon says authorities must announce results to avoid further tension. /COURTESY

Martin Fayulu a former oil tycoon says authorities must announce results to avoid further tension. /COURTESY

Why is France having a say in the elections of DR Congo?

The electoral commission (CENI) announced around 3.00 a.m. (0200 GMT) that opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, 55, had won the December 30 vote, edging out another opposition candidate, businessman Martin Fayulu. An outspoken campaigner against Congo's widespread graft - it ranked 161th among 180 countries in Transparency International's latest index - Fayulu denounced the official vote results as "rigged".

Speaking to cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters, Tshisekedi paid his respects to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, whom he called "an important political partner", and promised to rule for all Congo's 80 million people. "(.) The Congolese people will never accept that his victory be stolen".

Martin Fayulu, an opposition candidate tipped by pollsters as the likely victor of the December 30 vote, told supporters: "We will go to the Constitutional Court on Saturday..." Three diplomats briefed on the Church mission's tally said it showed Fayulu had won.

Earlier Thursday Fayulu also expressed alarm at the results when he said an "electoral coup" had taken place.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the surprise result was the "opposite to what we expected", based on field observations of the December 30 vote that was marred by voting machine malfunctions and Ebola virus outbreaks. Fayulu, by contrast, is backed by ex-rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba and former governor Moise Katumbi, two of Kabila's fiercest rivals.

By breaking away from the opposition coalition supporting Fayulu, Tshisekedi "positioned himself to bargain with the regime", Englebert wrote.

The Congolese capital of Kinshasa is reported relatively quiet early Thursday morning as the nation's electoral commission waited until the wee hours to declare opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the provisional victor of last month's long-delayed presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The victor received 7,053,000 out of the 18,280,830 ballots considered valid, Nangaa said in presenting the preliminary results.

The election commission issued its result before dawn Thursday, attributing 38.57 percent to Tshisekedi (the son of Congo's late opposition leader Etienne Tschisekedi), who past year broke away from Fayula.

Mr Fayulu's supporters say this backs their suspicion that Mr Tshisekedi has cut a power-sharing deal with Mr Kabila.

The delayed results come after global pressure to announce an outcome that reflected the will of the people.

Dozens of polling centres opened hours late as materials went missing.

Kabila has ruled since 2001 in the troubled nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world.

Defiantly, tens of thousands of voters in one of the barred communities held their own unofficial ballot on election day, and Fayulu won easily. "This is the beginning of national reconciliation".

Mr Fayulu said he feared there would be violence if the electoral commission did not give the true figures "polling station by polling station" and that it was the right of all Congolese to demonstrate according to the law.

The election was to choose a successor to Joseph Kabila, who has been in office for 18 years.

In Mbandaka, capital of the northwestern province of Equateur, a Fayulu aide was arrested for calling on supporters to vandalise a vote collection centre and seize records of the ballot count, Mwanamputu said.

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