Congo says Felix Tshisekedi wins presidential poll

The Latest: US to citizens in Congo: 'Depart the country'

The Latest: US to citizens in Congo: 'Depart the country'

DRC's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Thursday declared Felix Tshisekedi the victor of the presidential elections with 38.57% of the vote, just ahead of rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu who took 34.8%, according to AP.

Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who was announced as the victor of the presidential elections gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

France's top diplomat and analysts said Thursday that the Church's count indicated Tshisekedi's opposition rival Martin Fayulu, who came a close second, had actually won. The discrepancy sets the stage for a possible standoff between the Congolese government and the Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is considered one of Congo's most influential and trusted institutions.

Tshisekedi's victory was quickly contested by opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who charged the results were rigged.

Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father in 2001, had wanted to hand over power to Shadary, his former interior minister, when he stands down this month after 18 years in power.

It is unclear whether voting will ever be held in parts of Congo where the election was delayed - disenfranchising more than 1.2 million people - due to concerns about Ebola and violence.

If the church found Fayulu won, "how will population react?"

Tshisekedi's margin over Fayulu was less than 700,000 votes, according to the official results.

Fayulu described the official results as an "electoral coup".

Tshisekedi is leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress
Tshisekedi is leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress

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.

Patta said the country hasn't seen a peaceful transition to power since Belgian rule ended in 1960.

Many noted that Fayulu's campaign suffered significantly more harassment than Tshisekedi's, and that the latter's rhetoric towards erstwhile enemies underwent a dramatic change in recent days.

Tshisekedi "owes his ascendancy to power to Kabila's control of the electoral commission", and in exchange Kabila would look for immunity from any prosecution or asset seizure after handing over power, Besseling said. Anti-riot police with water cannon are outside the building.

Given that Kabila was reluctant to leave office after the Constitution required that he do so, many believed he would ensure that Shadary was elected.

Some Congolese tired of Kabila's long rule, two turbulent years of election delays and years of conflict that killed millions of people said they simply wanted peace. Some said they would be happy as long as Fayulu or Tshisekedi won, recalling the violence that followed past disputed elections.

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

A two-year wait for a new leader is coming to an end in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but already a post-election crisis is brewing.

Tshisekedi inherited the leadership of the UDPS party when his father, Etienne, died in 2017. He says that Tshisekedi provided a certificate of service in lieu of a postgraduate diploma. There were other organisations monitoring the elections, such as the Southern African Development Community, but it isn't clear yet if they agree or disagree with the electoral commission's provisional election results.

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