DR Congo election: Court upholds Tshisekedi’s win despite leaked data that suggests results were rigged
The DRC’s constitutional court upheld the preliminary results of the recent presidential election, affirming Felix Tshisekedi’s victory after clear reports of fraud from election oversight groups. Tshisakedi is the son of powerful opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in 2017 and was seen at that time as one of the few potential opposition figures to replace Kabila. Second place candidate Martin Fayulu has declared himself president of the country, citing national polling results from the Catholic Church’s oversight body and the mass disenfranchisement of the eastern region of the country. Opponents and analysts have suggested that Tshisekedi may have made a secret arrangement with outgoing president Kabila to ensure an electoral victory for Tshisekedi (instead of the openly supported government candidate) in exchange for a certain protection of the status quo. In the country’s legislative assembly, Kabila’s party maintained a large majority. With the announcement of the constitutional court, the government instructed the country’s telecoms companies to restore internet and text functions, which had been widely disabled for nearly 3 weeks.
Thus far, it appears that Tshisekedi’s victory is sufficiently stable to hold, as protests against it have not swelled to anything approaching a critical mass, and many regional powers have issued congratulations. The African Union delegation to the country sent to address the electoral problems has been cancelled. Many Congolese are relieved that the country is no longer under the explicit leadership of Joseph Kabila, who has remained in power since 2001. If successful, the transition will be the country’s first nonviolent succession since independence in 1960.