South­ern African bloc calls for re­count of elec­tion vote

i Newspaper - - PANORAMA - By Giulia Par­avicini IN KINSHASA

An in­flu­en­tial African bloc has urged the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo to re­count the votes of its chaotic pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, heap­ing pres­sure on Kinshasa to en­sure the le­git­i­macy of its next gov­ern­ment and to avert wide­spread vi­o­lent un­rest.

The bal­lot on 30 De­cem­ber was sup­posed to mark the DRC’s first un­con­tested demo­cratic trans­fer of power in 59 years of restive in­de­pen­dence, and the be­gin­ning of a new era after 18 years of chaotic rule by Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila.

But ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, in­clud­ing faulty vot­ing ma­chines, poorly run polling sta­tions and an Ebola out­break in the coun­try’s east, have over­shad­owed talk of demo­cratic progress.

Yes­ter­day’s in­ter­ven­tion by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity, which in­cludes re­gional al­lies of the DRC such as An­gola and South Africa, could push Mr Ka­bila to tackle the pres­i­den­tial run­ner-up’s ac­cu­sa­tions that the vote was rigged.

The sec­ond-place fin­isher, Martin Fayulu, be­lieves that he won by a land­slide and that the of­fi­cial win­ner, Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with Mr Ka­bila to be de­clared the vic­tor. Mr Tshisekedi and Mr Ka­bila deny this.

Iso­lated post-elec­tion vi­o­lence across the min­eral-rich DRC has many fear­ing a re­turn to the kind of civil un­rest that has killed mil­lions of peo­ple since the 1990s.

Felix Tshisekedi, the of­fi­cial win­ner, has been ac­cused of cor­rup­tion

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