Congo court confirms Tshisekedi as president-elect

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Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 10, 2019.

By Reuters

Congo’s constitutional court confirmed Felix Tshisekedi’s presidential election win on Sunday, dismissing a challenge from another opposition leader who rejected the court’s decision and declared himself president.

Second-placed Martin Fayulu accused Tshisekedi and the ruling party of stitching up the result. His move that risks stoking further unrest over the bitterly disputed poll.

Tshisekedi’s supporters were celebrating the court decision in the streets of Kinshasa.

Fayulu says the results were the product of a secret deal between Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila to cheat him out of a win of more than 60 percent.

Kabila’s camp and Tshisekedi’s denied making any such deal. The president of the constitutional court, Benoit Luamba, rejected the challenge as “inadmissible.”

“The constitutional court has just confirmed that it serves a dictatorial regime … by validating false results, (and enabling) a constitutional coup d’etat,” Fayulu said in a statement.

The provisional results in the election, which was meant to enable Congo’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence from Belgium, showed Tshisekedi winning with a slim margin over Fayulu.

Kabila’s favoured candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary came in a distant third.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende welcomed the court’s decision.

“Felix Tshisekedi will become the fifth president of the republic,” Mende said by telephone.

A spokesman for Tshisekedi, Vidiye Tshimanga, said: “We are happy that the voice of the Congolese people has been heard and that a true democratic and peaceful handover will occur.”

If Fayulu’s supporters reject the result, it could worsen unrest that has already seen 34 people killed, 59 wounded and 241 “arbitrary arrests” in the past week, according to the U.N. human rights office.

Congo’s constitutional court is widely seen as beholden to Kabila, who has been in power since his father was assassinated in 2001.

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