Friday

24th Mar 2017

Investigation

Kabila re-elected in Congo

  • Congolese election officials (Photo: MONUSCO)

Joseph Kabila has been re-elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the EU calling for data from each polling station to be released amid deep suspicions of electoral fraud within the opposition camp.

Provisional results released by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) on Friday (9 December) suggest the divisive politician obtained 49 percent of the vote against 32 percent for veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

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Earlier this week, frustrated Tshisekedi supporters stormed through the streets of Brussels causing damage to shop windows and cars before being dispersed with water canons, with similar scenes witnessed in other cities across the globe.

Originally scheduled for Tuesday, the announcement of results in the DRC was repeatedly pushed back due to an array of logistical hurdles. The final tally must still be ratified by the country’s supreme court.

All eyes are now on the opposition camp amid fears of an outbreak of violence.

"I consider these results a real provocation of the Congolese people," Tshisekedi said in an interview on RFI radio on Friday. "As a consequence, I consider myself, from today, the elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo."

In Kinshasa, the sprawling capital city of 10 million people, opposition supporters burned car tyres and chanted Tshisekedi's campaign slogan: "The people first."

The international community has called for calm amid fears of an outbreak of violence, while international observers have said the vote was flawed but stopped short of calling it fraudulent.

The French Foreign Ministry released a statement Friday urging "the candidates who contest the provisional results to do so through legal channels."

"France calls on all Congolese political players to show restraint and a spirit of responsibility," it said. "France will condemn any incitement to violence."

Roughly 18 people were killed in the run-up to polling day, reports Human Rights Watch, pointing the principle finger of blame at Kabila's presidential guard.

EU high representative Catherine Ashton reacted to the news on Friday by saying data from each polling station must be released to ensure the result is widely accepted.

“The publication by CENI of results, polling station by polling station, constitutes an appropriate measure to ensure the transparence of the counting of ballots and the electoral process as a whole,” she said in a statement.

Opposition figures have repeatedly complained about CENI’s behaviour throughout the electoral campaign, noting in particular that its chairman is also a co-founder of Kabila’s political party.

There have also been grumblings that the EU failed to speak out sufficiently against a flawed electoral register and a constitutional change which shifted the presidential vote from two rounds to one.

Congolese tensions spill onto streets of Brussels

Post-electoral tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo spilled onto the streets of Brussels on Monday, with angry supporters of opposition presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi damaging vehicles and briefly occupying the EU capital’s inner ring-road.

Black gold in Virunga, curse or saviour?

The DRC's Virunga National Park is teaming with wildlife but also sits atop huge oil deposits, traditionally a magnet for corruption in parts of Africa. New EU legislation covering the extractive industry may help.

Congo fatigue: EU funding in the heart of Africa

The Democratic Republic of Congo was last year the largest recipient of EU support among ACP states. But critics say this approach has failed, drawing a question mark over the EU's next step.

Bulgaria's election test

Sunday's general elections will be a test for the country's relations with the EU, Russia, and Turkey, as well as for the political future of former leader Borisov.

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