July 17, 2024

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Félix Tshisekedi heading for second presidential term in Congo’s contested elections

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Félix Tshisekedi is heading for a second presidential term in the Democratic Republic of Congo after what appears to be a comfortable win in chaotic elections tarnished by widespread irregularities.

With ballots counted at roughly 55,000 of the 76,000 polling stations on Sunday, Tshisekedi had received more than 70 per cent of the votes cast on December 20, according to the electoral commission. Voting among 44mn registered voters was extended to December 21 after many polling stations failed to open on time.

Moïse Katumbi, a trucking tycoon, football club owner and former governor of the mineral-rich Katanga state, was trailing in second place with about 18 per cent. Martin Fayulu, the winner of the 2018 election according to analysis by the Financial Times, was this time credited with only about 5 per cent of the vote.

Both Katumbi and Fayulu, two of 18 candidates challenging Tshisekedi for the presidency, on Sunday called on people to take to the streets in protest against what they called an “electoral fraud”.

Earlier in the week, police broke up crowds in Kinshasa preparing to march on the headquarters of the electoral commission, which the opposition has accused of backing the incumbent administration.

“After the sham elections organised by the electoral commission, the Congolese people decided, as the constitution gives them the right to do, to take charge and march peacefully to demand a real election,” Katumbi wrote on the social media platform X. “The only response was shooting and indiscriminate violence from the police.”

Alex Vines, head of the Africa programme at Chatham House, said the opposition had handed the election to Tshisekedi by failing to unite. Although there were irregularities, with two-thirds of polling stations opening late and a third of voting machines malfunctioning, he said, he thought it…

2023-12-31 10:01:17

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