The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is calling on the Congolese to refrain from
SADC’s Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation Chairperson President Edgar Chagwa Lungu says in a statement that he welcomes the release of the provisional results.
The Zambian president said that SADC congratulates the Congolese people, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), all political stakeholders and the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) for conducting the elections.
The Congolese Presidential Election was held under the combined Presidential, Legislative and Provincial Elections on December 30,
The announcement sparked strong condemnation by the Congolese opposition immediately after an election official said then that the election could not take place until April 2019.
CENI president, Corneille Nangaa, said the delay was necessary because violence was hampering voter registration in the central Kasai region.
Nangaa said CENI officials would need 504 days to prepare the presidential vote after registration which was expected to be complete by January 2018. This mean that the election would have been held almost two years later in 2020.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila took over power in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila.
The junior Kabila has applied delay tactics to push the election date and had made a deal with opposition parties in December to hold the election before the end of 2017. This however could not happen and the election was pushed to late 2018.
In the SADC statement, Lungu said, “SADC urges all political parties, candidates, and their supporters to exercise patience and all concerned stakeholders to remain calm and act in a way that consolidates democracy and preserves peace.”
The Catholic Church which is a powerful organisation in the DRC has disputed the results saying that Felix Tshisekedi’s win against Martin Fayulu does not reflect the data collected from polling stations by its observers.
DRC’s Catholic bishops’ body CENCO spokesman Father Donatien Nshole said, “The result of the presidential election as published by CENI does not correspond with the data collected by our observer mission from polling stations and counting centres.”
This statement revealed what the Catholic Church said last week when it said it knew who had won the vote.
Instead of revealing who it was, CENCO instead urged CENI to publish the results “in keeping with truth and justice”.
Nshole hailed the announcement of the results, however, noting that it was an historic moment for the country which was voting for the first time.
SADC has called upon all stakeholders with concerns, including regarding the accuracy of the results, to pursue any election dispute about the provisional results, peacefully.
To seek redress, Fayulu’s camp says it will file a formal fraud complaint on Saturday.
Fayulu’s supporters accuse the authorities of rigging the result in a deal to protect Kabila’s people in his administration and to also maintain his influence over security forces.
Congo’s 80 million people fear the disputed vote could cause unrest where there have been isolated post-election violence incidents.
The election is the country’s first semblance of democratic transfer of power in 60 years.
Congo’s wealth, which powers most of the world, has been a cause of pain for many in the country that has suffered war for decades.
The world’s electronics manufacturers thrive on the country’s rich minerals.
The country’s untapped mineral deposits are estimated at USD 24 trillion. This includes the world’s largest reserves of coltan and cobalt.
The United States Geological Survey estimates that the DRC has 1 million tonnes of lithium resources.