Tshisekedi supporters throng Kinshasa streets to celebrate poll win

Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections, celebrate in the streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections, celebrate in the streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Supporters of Congo opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi took to the streets to celebrate his surprise win in the presidential election announced on Thursday, even as France’s Foreign Minister called for clarity over the results.

Crowds of supporters gathered in the streets cheering and waving maize crops, which symbolise Tshisekedi’s party’s emphasis on supporting and developing farming.

The result sets the stage for Congo‘s first democratic transfer of power, but a tense political standoff is also likely.

Tshisekedi won with 38.57 percent of more than 18 million votes cast, in an announcement made at 0200 GMT by Corneille Nangaa, president of the election commission (CENI).

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said the surprise victory was at odds with what was seen on the ground.

“These elections took place rather peacefully, which is a good thing but it seems that the results announced, of Mr Tshisekedi being the winner, do not match the expected results. The Catholic Church of Congo did its tally and announced completely different results. Therefore, I think, while remaining calm and avoiding confrontation, that we must have clarity on these results, which are the opposite to what we expected,” he said.

Tshisekedi was trailed by another opposition candidate, businessman Martin Fayulu, whose camp suspects that their opponent cut a power-sharing deal with Kabila to secure his victory.

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 the 1960s.

“Our brother Tshisekedi won and we would like to congratulate him, as we are all Congolese. He should continue with development from where Kabila left it. It should not turn into him sitting on that chair and not keeping the promises that he made to the Congolese. If so, he will have failed the Congolese people,” said one supporter, Thypson Idumbu.

“… we are ready to join him (Tshisekedi) and to lend him our strong support, but only on the condition that he does not mix with the people who made us suffer for 17 years, for 20 years, in the name of negotiations. We say yes to change and no to continuity,” said Bukavu resident John Chrysostom.