Opposition candidate wins election in DRC
The Democratic Republic of Congo is about to witness its first handover of power in 18 years, following the release of election results on Thursday.
Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of DRC’s oldest opposition party, the Union of Democracy and Social Progress, was declared the winner in the hotly contested race.
Tshisekedi garnered 39 percent of the more than 18 million ballots cast on Dec 30. His closest rival has disputed the result.
The announcement was met with jubilation from his supporters and put an end to tension brought about by repeated election delays. On Wednesday, anti-riot police had been deployed in the capital, Kinshasa, amid fear that a disputed result could trigger violence.
The international community also exerted pressure on the electoral board to announce the provincial results with South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu calling for expediency to avoid destabilizing the country.
According to CENI, the independent election authority, Tshisekedi won with 7 million votes against his closest rival Martin Fayulu with 6 million votes. Emmanuel Shadary, the preferred candidate of outgoing president Joseph Kabila trailed third with 4 million votes.
Taking to his twitter handle, Tshisekedi, who is the son of late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, said a victory for him is a victory for the Congolese people. “With the first peaceful transfer of power in 60 years, we would like to thank supporters around the country for standing up for peace, democracy and for themselves, their families and their future.”
Adhere Cavince, a political analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya, said the results speaks of the strides the country is making toward democracy. “Presidential elections in Africa rarely have opposition leaders as winners. This is a new narrative.”
While he noted that these are interim results and can still be challenged, Cavince called on all involved to be rational and put the national interests first. “Regardless of who the next president is, the new government must be united and build credible structures going forward.”
Those disputing the results have a right to protest, he said, but this should be done within the constitutional framework. “However, we need to remember that peace in the DRC is fragile and the country has disintegrated into war twice due to political disputes. It is time to put an end to this cycle,” he said.
He acknowledged, however, that repeated delays in holding the elections and releasing the results have blighted the process.
“Contradictory results can easily trigger violence in the country,” he said.
Herman Manyora, another political analyst in Nairobi, said the world needs a peaceful central African region.
Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, who was announced the winner of the presidential elections, walks among his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Thursday.