April 17, 2024

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The Re-Election of President Tshisekedi: A Contested Victory

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been re-elected for a second term after receiving more than 73% of the vote in a Dec. 20 election, the country’s election commission CENI announced on Sunday.

The announcement of the results comes after days of opposition complaints about how the election was conducted.

Denis Kadima, the head of CENI, announced the results in Kinshasa, saying Tshisekedi had received more than 13 million votes out of over 18 million valid votes, with a turnout of more than 43%.

After Kadima announced that Tshisekedi had been provisionally elected, cheers erupted from Tshisekedi’s supporters present at the declaration.

Political parties, candidates, and those appointed by them have two days to appeal the election results to the Constitutional Court. The court then has seven days to rule on the case and announce the outcome.

Moise Katumbi, the opposition’s frontrunner, who came in second with 18%, has already ruled out filing a legal challenge to CENI’s results, citing the alleged lack of independence of state institutions.

Other candidates in the opposition have not stated whether they will challenge the results.

Earlier on Sunday, a group of nine opposition presidential candidates, including Katumbi, and six political party leaders called on supporters to take to the streets to protest after the preliminary results were released.

JOINT DECLARATION

“We categorically reject the sham election … and its results,” the main opposition candidates stated in a joint statement. They demanded that new elections be held with a new electoral body on a mutually agreed-upon date.

They said, “We call on our people to take to the streets en masse after the proclamation of the electoral fraud.”

Calls for a rerun of the elections had previously been turned down by the Congolese government.

A dispute that threatens to further destabilize a country roughly the size of Western Europe, the world’s top producer of cobalt and other valuable industrial commodities, has been fueled by logistical setbacks, an election day overrun, and an opaque vote count.

Some of Tshisekedi’s principal opponents, such as former oil executive Martin Fayulu, have been demanding a rerun of the election and legislative elections ever since election day, alleging CENI of permitting the vote to be skewed in favor of the president.

Along with warnings from independent observer groups that the unscheduled extension of voting and other incidents on election day and during the tabulation of votes may have compromised the poll’s legitimacy and legal footing, CENI and the government have rejected these allegations.

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