Tshisekedi is de­clared win­ner. Can he fix a bro­ken Congo?

SUR­PRISE AN­NOUNCE­MENT: As the Catholic Church dis­putes re­sult, a coali­tion govt could be on the cards

The East African - - FRONT PAGE - By FRED OLUOCH Special Cor­re­spon­dent

The Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo is likely to go for a coali­tion govern­ment be­tween Felix Tshisekedi’s Union for Democ­racy and So­cial Progress (UDPS) and Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila’s Com­mon Front for Congo (FCC).

Even be­fore the elec­toral com­mis­sion made the sur­prise an­nounce­ment that Mr Tshisekedi had won the elec­tion in the early hours of Thurs­day, the 55-year-old scion of the doyen of Con­golese op­po­si­tion, the late Eti­enne Tshisekedi, had been in talks with the Ka­bila side, lead­ing his op­po­nents to al­lege the govern­ment had rigged the re­sult in his favour. Congo watch­ers now say they would not be sur­prised if Em­manuel Shadary, Pres­i­dent Ka­bila’s pro­tégé who has served as in­te­rior min­is­ter, were to be named prime min­is­ter in the new ar­range­ment.

By Fri­day, there was no ev­i­dence pro­duced to show foul play, but there had been com­plaints of mas­sive ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. The Catholic Church, which had de­ployed 40,000 ob­servers in the elec­toral zones, said it had clear data to show who won the polls. Leaked in­for­ma­tion showed it be­lieves Martin Fayulu, the joint op­po­si­tion can­di­date, won.

The Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo is likely to go for a coali­tion govern­ment be­tween the win­ner, Felix Tshisekedi's Union for Democ­racy and So­cial Progress (UDPS) and Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila's Com­mon Front for Congo (FCC).

Even be­fore the elec­toral com­mis­sion made the sur­prise an­nounce­ment that Mr Tshisekedi had won the elec­tion in the early hours of Thurs­day, the 55-year-old scion of the doyen of Con­golese op­po­si­tion Eti­enne Tshisekedi had been in talks with the Ka­bila side, mak­ing his op­po­nents al­lege that the govern­ment had rigged the re­sult in his favour.

Congo watch­ers now say they would not be sur­prised if Em­manuel Shadary, Pres­i­dent Ka­bila's pro­tégé who served as In­te­rior Min­is­ter, were to be named prime min­is­ter in the new ar­range­ment.

By Fri­day, there was no ev­i­dence pro­duced to show foul play, but there had been com­plaints of mas­sive ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. Leaked in­for­ma­tion showed that the Catholic Church, which de­ployed 40,000 ob­servers in the elec­toral zones, be­lieves Martin Fayulu, the joint op­po­si­tion can­di­date, won.

In the of­fi­cial re­sults, Mr Fayulu of the La­muka (Wake Up) Coali­tion, whom exit polls had put ahead of the duo, got 34.8 per cent of the vote, while Mr Shadary got 23.57 per cent.

Mr Fayulu dis­missed the re­sult as a fraud and vowed to chal­lenge them in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court. His sup­port­ers say au­thor­i­ties rigged the re­sult on be­half of Tshisekedi, in a deal to pro­tect mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Ka­bila's out­go­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion and main­tain his in­flu­ence over the se­cu­rity forces.

“We know that the Con­sti­tu­tional Court is com­posed of Ka­bila's peo­ple, but we do not want to give any chance to Ka­bila and his team to say...you didn't fol­low the law. We want to do all that we can do to have the clean re­sult,” Mr Fayulu told BBC.

There was ten­sion with fears of vi­o­lence from dis­grun­tled op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers but at the same time, there was a ray of hope of a tran­si­tion as the op­po­si­tion pre­pares to take over the reins in a coun­try that has not seen a peace­ful trans­fer of power in close to six decades.

Ob­servers say that the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Mr Tshisekedi's cam­paign and the Ka­bila side had ex­isted all along. On Jan­uary 7, Jean-marc Kabund, spokesper­son of the Tshisekedi cam­paign team, an­nounced at a press con­fer­ence that they were go­ing to meet the team of Mr Shadary be­cause, “Pres­i­dent Ka­bila and Tshisekedi have an in­ter­est in meet­ing to pre­pare for the peace­ful and civilised trans­fer of power.”

After the an­nounce­ment of the re­sults on Jan­uary 10 show­ing that he had won with 38.57 per cent, a han­dle with Mr Tshisekedi's name tweeted thank­ing Pres­i­dent Ka­bila, “for giv­ing me this op­por­tu­nity to also taste the pres­i­dency. I swear in the name of the Philadel­phia church that I will grant you all the sup­port you will need .... ”

The han­dle is not ver­i­fied and The Eastafrican could not in­de­pen­dently as­cer­tain its au­then­tic­ity.

Stephanie Wolters, the head of the Di­vi­sion for Con­flict Preven­tion and Risk Anal­y­sis at the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, said that it is pos­si­ble Pres­i­dent Ka­bila could have made a deal with Mr Tshisekedi in re­turn for pro­tec­tion.

“The proof will come when Mr Tshisekedi forms the Cabi­net, who will be­come the Prime Min­is­ter and whether he will con­tinue with the army gen­er­als or change them,” said Ms Wolters.

France, a key DRC de­vel­op­ment part­ner also ques­tioned the re­sults. For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-yves Le Drian called for clar­ity on pres­i­den­tial elec­tion re­sults be­cause the sur­prise vic­tory of Mr Tshisekedi was at odds with what was seen on the ground.

“We must have clar­ity on these re­sults, which are the op­po­site of what we ex­pected,” Le Drian told Cnews.

The pow­er­ful Catholic Church said the pro­vi­sional re­sult of De­cem­ber's pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, nam­ing Tshisekedi as win­ner, does not re­flect the data its ob­servers col­lected from polling sta­tions.

"...The re­sult does not cor­re­spond with the data col­lected by our ob­server mis­sion from polling sta­tions and count­ing cen­tres," said Fa­ther Dona­tien Ns­hole, spokesman for Cenco which rep­re­sents the coun­try's Catholic bish­ops.

Ac­cord­ing to the Congo con­sti­tu­tion, any­body with com­plains must file in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court within 14 days of the an­nounce­ment of the re­sults. The court de­clares the re­sult and its de­ci­sion is fi­nal.

Dr Mialano Tan­ga­nia, mem­ber of the La­muka Coali­tion who lives in Kenya, told The

Eastafrican that they are con­fi­dent the court will nul­lify the elec­tion re­sults. But if that de­ci­sion were to be taken, there would be a cri­sis, as there is no money to con­duct an­other elec­tion. He spec­u­lates that Pres­i­dent Ka­bila would have to con­tinue rul­ing in a care­taker ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“The FCC lead­er­ship was con­cerned that elect­ing Mr Fayulu would be tan­ta­mount to elect­ing Moise Ka­tumbi,” said Dr Tan­ga­nia.

It is pos­si­ble Pres­i­dent Ka­bila could have made a deal with Mr Tshisekedi in re­turn for pro­tec­tion.” Stephanie Wolters, In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies

Mr Ka­tumbi, the leader of the To­gether for Change and Jean Pierre Bemba of the Move­ment de Lib­er­a­tion of Congo, sup­ported Mr Fayulu. While Mr Ka­tumbi was blocked from re­turn­ing to the coun­try to present his elec­tion ap­pli­ca­tion pa­pers, Mr Bemba was barred by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court over an in­dict­ment by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court for wit­ness tam­per­ing.

Dr Tan­ga­nia claims that the op­po­si­tion lead­ers agreed in Geneva that should Mr Fayulu win, he would bring in Mr Ka­tumbi and Mr Bemba. Tshisekedi and Vi­tal Kamerhe left the op­po­si­tion 24 hours after the sign­ing the agree­ment for a united op­po­si­tion can­di­date in Geneva on Novem­ber 11, cit­ing hos­til­i­ties from their sup­port­ers.

Jean Paul Ilunga, pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­a­tion of the Congo in Di­as­pora, told The East African that Mr Tshisekedi left the united op­po­si­tion be­cause they had de­cided that the one who gets the ticket would rule for two years, “yet the con­sti­tu­tion says five years”.

“I was sup­port­ing Mr Shadary, but we are happy that for the first time power will change from the govern­ment to the op­po­si­tion,” he said.

In the elec­tion con­ducted on De­cem­ber 30, the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (CENI) could not find the $1.8 bil­lion re­quired for the pres­i­den­tial, leg­isla­tive and lo­cal elec­tions and had to make do with the $432 mil­lion pro­vided by the govern­ment.

The DRC govern­ment re­jected sup­port from in­ter­na­tional donors on the grounds of “for­eign in­ter­fer­ence.” The elec­tions which were sched­uled for 2016 failed to take place, with the govern­ment cit­ing lack of funds.

How­ever, the co-op­er­a­tion be­tween FCC and UDPS will not come as a sur­prise be­cause of the rea­sons Mr Fayulu was picked as the united op­po­si­tion can­di­date, at the ex­pense of Mr Tshisekedi. The op­po­si­tion feared that Mr Tshisekedi and Mr Kamerhe could be com­pro­mised by Pres­i­dent Ka­bila.

If Mr Tshisekedi's win is af­firmed and he is sworn in on Jan­uary 18, he will be fol­low­ing the foot­steps of his fa­ther, Iti­enne Tshisekedi, who died in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

The el­der Tsh­sekedi was the main op­po­nent of the late Mobutu Sese Seko in the then Zaire.

Felix Tshisekedi, his wife, rel­a­tives an party sup­port­ers in Kin­shasa on Jan­uary 10, after he was de­clared win­ner in the pres­i­den­tial poll.

Pic: AFP

d party sup­port­ers in Kin­shasa on Jan­uary 10, after he was de­clared win­ner in the pres­i­den­tial poll.

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