Congo’s capital was calm Sunday with residents attending church after the Constitutional Court confirmed the presidential election victory of Felix Tshisekedi. It was not clear if the population would heed runner-up Martin Fayulu’s call for non-violent protests against the court ruling.
Tshisekedi said early Sunday that the court’s decision to reject claims of electoral fraud and declare him president was a victory for the entire country.
“It is Congo that won,” said Tshisekedi, speaking to his supporters after the court decision. “It is not the victory of one camp against another. I am engaged in a campaign to reconcile all Congolese. … The Congo that we are going to form will not be a Congo of division, hatred or tribalism. It will be a reconciled Congo, a strong Congo that will be focused on development, peace and security.”
Supporters of his UDPS party celebrated the victory into the early morning hours, in motorcade processions through the capital’s main streets.
But Fayulu’s declaration that he is Congo’s “only legitimate president” and call for the Congolese people to peacefully protest against what he called a “constitutional coup d’etat” threatened to keep the country in a political crisis that has been simmering since the Dec. 30 elections.
The court turned away Fayulu’s request for a recount of the vote, affirming Tshisekedi won with more than 7 million votes, or 38 percent, and Fayulu received 34 percent.
The court judgment, released in the early hours of Sunday, said Fayulu offered no proof to back his assertions that he had won easily based on leaked data attributed the electoral commission. It also called unfounded another challenge filed by Fayulu that objected to the electoral commission’s last-minute decision to bar some 1 million voters from the election over a deadly Ebola virus outbreak.
Fayulu and his supporters have also, outside the court, alleged an extraordinary backroom deal by outgoing President Joseph Kabila to rig the vote in favor of Tshisekedi.