Election runner-up Martin Fayulu rejects DR Congo poll result

Martin Fayulu, Congolese joint opposition presidential candidate, speaks during a press conference in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Martin Fayulu, Congolese joint opposition presidential candidate, speaks during a press conference in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election runner-up Martin Fayulu has rejected the poll result declared on Thursday that saw his opponent Felix Tshisekedi announced as the winner of the December 30 election.

In a news conference just hours after the announcement was made, Fayulu, who represented the opposition Lamuka Coalition during the poll, said: “We reject categorically the result published by Mr Nangaa (election commission president Corneille Nangaa). May God Almighty bless the Congo.”

He further said: “To all those who learned of the truth of the ballot boxes, especially to the Congo‘s National Bishops’ Episcopal Conference, CENCO, and the Church of Congo, LCC, through your historical observations, we ask you to reveal to the Congolese people and to the whole world the name of the person who really was our people’s choice.”

Tshisekedi, meanwhile, whose victory was declared at about 0200 GMT paid his respects to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, and described him as a “partner in democratic change”.

Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters in the capital Kinshasa, Tshisekedi said he would be the president “of all Congolese”.

Tshisekedi, candidate of the Cap for Change (CACH) coalition and UDPS party leader, won with 38.57 percent of more than 18 million ballots cast, according to Corneille Nangaa.

If Tshisekedi’s victory is confirmed in the next 10 days by the constitutional court, he will become the first leader to take power at the ballot box since Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who was toppled in a coup less than three months after independence in 1960 and killed four months later.

Nangaa said Tshisekedi had received more than 7 million votes, compared to about 6.4 million for Fayulu and about 4.4 million for Kabila’s hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

The result is certain to fuel further suspicion that Tshisekedi, who the last opinion polls before the election showed was well behind Fayulu, struck a power-sharing pact with Kabila.