SADC calls for recount in DRC presidential poll
Regional leaders recommend government of national unity amid claims of vote rigging
AMID growing accusations by members of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition and civil society of vote-rigging, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for a recount of votes cast in the election and for all political leaders to consider a government of national unity.
The SADC said it had taken note of the strong doubts cast on the poll outcome by the Roman Catholic Church in the DRC, which deployed more than 40 000 monitors and other observers, and that a recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu, in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, said he had spoken to the SADC leaders, as well as the proclaimed winner Felix Tshisekedi, and drew “the attention of the Congolese politicians to similar arrangements that were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya where governments of national unity created the necessary stability for durable peace”.
South Africa was in full agreement with the SADC in recommending that the political players consider a negotiated settlement as an option that could include a GNU, said Minister of International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu, who addressed the media in Johannesburg yesterday on the electoral outcomes in both the DRC and Madagascar.
“It is important that the people of the DRC must decide what is best for them. As the final decision lies with them, we cannot prescribe to them,” she said.
Sisulu was clear that South Africa did not want to pre-empt developments in the DRC. She acknowledged that opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu was contesting the election results, as he did not believe that they were a true reflection and he was going to go through the courts.
“We applaud that,” she said.
Sisulu, who has been closely monitoring the developments in the DRC and engaging various stakeholders throughout the electoral period, was elated at the peaceful outcome of the elections.
“Given the sheer size of the DRC, the fact that there were more than 600 political candidates and 12 000 candidates for parliamentary elections, and despite the violence of the past, this is the first comprehensive election in the DRC since independence.
“CENI (the Independent National Electoral Commission) needs to be congratulated,” she said.
Since becoming minister, Sisulu has consistently said that there had to be an election in the DRC.
Since South Africa took up its seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council at the beginning of the year, it has played an influential role in ensuring that the discussion on the DRC in the UN Security Council included a briefing from the SADC, as well as from the Congolese churches.
The concern now is to ensure that tensions do not escalate further in the DRC and that there is no threat to peace and stability in the country.
Fayulu claimed that he won by a landslide and the official winner, Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with former president Joseph Kabila to be declared the victor.
Alain Shekomba, a popular presidential candidate particularly with the youth of the DRC, withdrew from the electoral race two days before the poll, claiming the election had been rigged and that to participate would have been to legitimise the process.
Shekomba believed that a deal between Kabila and Tshisekedi was struck well before the election itself. Fully supporting the SADC’s call for a vote recount, Shekomba has said: “Vote recounting is a democratic process that must be supported by anyone with common sense and rationality.”
Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, centre, leaves the Philadelphie Missionary Centre after attending Sunday Mass in Kinshasa, Congo, yesterday. President elect Felix Tshisekedi was also scheduled to attend the service, but cancelled. The Roman Catholic Church has voiced its doubts over the election results in the DRC. |