UN chief urges DR Congo to “refrain from violence” following poll result

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The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo to “refrain from violence” following the announcement of the provisional results of the long-delayed presidential election.

The country’s electoral commission (CENI) declared Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the vote with over 38 percent, ahead of his closest rival martin Fayulu.

“The Secretary-General calls on all stakeholders to refrain from violence and to channel any eventual electoral disputes through the established institutional mechanisms in line with the DRC’s Constitution and relevant electoral laws,” a statement from the UN chief read in part.

If Tshisekedi’s win is upheld and he is sworn in, the DR Congo would witness its first peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence in 1960.

The December 30 vote had been delayed by two years, following a failure by CENI to hold the election in November 2016, at the end of President Joseph Kabila’s final term.

Opposition leaders accused Kabila of frustrating the vote as a way of clinging on to power, allegations he denied.

In his statement, Guterres called on the government, political parties and civil society to “each live up to their responsibility in preserving stability and upholding democratic practices” in the DR Congo.

The result of the presidential vote is however being contested by Fayulu, who claims fraud in the election.

According to the law, Fayulu has 48 hours – starting on Thursday – to lodge a petition in court.