PARTS of the Democratic Republic of Congo erupted in jubilation on Thursday following the emergence of Felix Tshisekedi, the candidate of the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress, as the winner of the country’s presidential election.
The development represents the first electoral transfer of power since the DRC gained independence 59 years ago.
Many had thought that the government candidate, Emmanuel Shadary, who was hand-picked by outgoing president Joseph Kabila to succeed him, would win the election, the third since the end of a civil war in the country in 2002.
However, another popular opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, has said that the election was rigged, insisting that Tshisekedi has agreed to a power deal with Kabila in order to shield the outgoing president from corruption prosecution.
Fayulu was widely believed to be the main contender to the presidency. Independent polls prior to the election had put him on 47 per cent, at least 20 points ahead of Tshisekedi.
Also, there are reports that vote tallies compiled by the DRC’s Catholic church show that Fayulu clearly won the election. The Catholic church is a powerful institution in the DRC, and in a joint statement with other Protestant churches and election observers, the country’s Catholic bishops’ conference called for calm and demanded that the election board, publish “only results that come from the ballot box”.