SADC calls for re­count in DRC pres­i­den­tial poll

Re­gional lead­ers rec­om­mend gov­ern­ment of na­tional unity amid claims of vote rig­ging

Daily News - - NATION - SHANNON EBRAHIM

Group For­eign Edi­tor

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.”

AP African News Agency (ANA)

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. |

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