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Update: Opposition candidate declared DRC election winner but church observers dispute result

Update: After the DRC’s electoral commission announced Felix Tshisekedi had won the December 30 presidential election, Catholic church observers disputed the outcome and the other opposition frontrunner, Martin Fayulu, asked the Constitutional Court to order a recount. “The court, made up of nine judges, is considered by the opposition to be friendly to Kabila, and Fayulu has said he is not confident that it will rule in his favour,” Al Jazeera reported.

 

by Greg Klein | January 9, 2019

Will this be the country’s first peaceful change of government since 1960? Slightly delayed results from a long-delayed election would give the Democratic Republic of Congo presidency to an opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi. At issue is whether he takes office without violent resistance and, if he does, whether he can address profound humanitarian problems including an Ebola outbreak, ethnic warfare, atrocities against civilians and forced labour in mines on which the West depends.

Opposition candidate wins Democratic Republic of Congo election

DRC’s electoral commission credited Tshisekedi with 38% of the vote in the December 30 election, surpassing another challenger, Martin Fayulu with 34%, and outgoing president Joseph Kabila’s handpicked candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary with 23%, Associated Press reported. Two regions in the epidemic-stricken northeast and a violence-stricken city in the west were barred from voting until March. Media accounts have said those regions opposed Shadary.

The new president is scheduled to be sworn in on January 18. He would replace Kabila, whose political family is said to have become massively wealthy off the country’s immense mineral riches.

According to AP, the Catholic church “has said its 40,000 election observers at all polling stations found a ‘clear winner’ but was barred by electoral regulations from saying more.

“If the church found Fayulu won, ‘how will population react?’ Stephanie Wolters, analyst with the Institute for Security Studies, posted on Twitter ahead of the announcement.”

Some candidates have discussed changes to the country’s mining industry, which the U.S. Geological Survey says supplies 58% of the world’s cobalt, 34.5% of tin and 28.5% of tantalum. All three have been classified by the U.S. as critical metals.

Far more serious than the industry’s tax and royalty regimen is the use of forced labour in dangerous conditions to work mines under militia control. Western consumers rely on DRC conflict exports that include cobalt, tin, tantalum, tungsten, niobium and gold.

Read more about the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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