DRC's Fayulu to release church's vote results

Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi who was named

Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi who was named

The runner-up in the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election said on Friday he in fact won a landslide victory with more than 60% of votes and will file a formal fraud complaint.

And the powerful Catholic Church also said the outcome of the troubled December 30 vote did not tally with data its own observers collected, raising serious questions about the credibility of figures released by the CENI election commission. "I demand a hand recount of all votes for the three elections (presidential, national legislative and provincial)".

"The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo have waited 58 years for a peaceful democratic transfer of power, and have sacrificed too much for this election result not to reflect their votes", said a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators.

He said he would challenge Corneille Nangaa, head of the Independent National Election Commission (CENI), "to produce the tally reports from polling stations in front of witnesses" and Congolese and global observers.

Provisional results released on Thursday gave Felix Tshisekedi, a rival opposition candidate, 38.57 percent of the vote, just ahead of Fayulu with 34.8 percent.

In the election, Kabila backed his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary, who finished a distant third. Turnout on the day stood at 48 percent.

"CENCO's word on the election results will therefore be heeded by many Congolese, who suspect the vote remains rigged". Pre-election polling had shown the FCC lagging behind opposition parties in legislative races.

Speaking Friday by phone to Eddy Isango of VOA's French to Africa service, Fayulu said he will go to the Constitutional Court on Saturday and ask judges to order the recount.

"We don't expect the election to be annulled, but (a decision in favour of) a recount", Fayulu said.

TRT World's Franck Ucciardo has more.

The December 30 election came after more than two turbulent years of delays as many Congolese anxious that Kabila, in power since 2001, sought a way to stay in office to protect his sprawling assets.

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Rich in minerals but mired in poverty, the country has suffered two major wars in the past 22 years, as well as bloodshed in elections in 2006 and 2011 that saw Kabila returned to office.

Statements by the worldwide community, including African regional blocs, have not congratulated Tshisekedi, merely taking note of official results and urging against violence.

Most leaders called for any disagreements to be resolved peacefully in statements that pointedly lacked any congratulations for Tshisekedi, with the dispute over the results playing out in the UN Security Council on Friday.

Speaking by videoconference to the UN Security Council on Friday, CENI chief Nangaa appealed for "the new authorities to be supported by the global community".

Analysts said it was likely Kabila had struck a deal with 55-year-old opposition chief to avoid a violent backlash and the worldwide condemnation that would have followed if his handpicked-successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary had been named.

In turn, Kabila - who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 2001 - was likely to seek immunity from prosecution and protection for his family's business assets.

The pre-dawn announcement brought thousands of Tshisekedi supporters onto the streets in celebration, while others who had backed Fayulu came out to protest, with five killed in the resulting clashes with police.

Protests in the western city of Kikwit on Thursday turned violent, killing at least four demonstrators and two police officers. The previous tally was five dead.

There remain 15 parliamentary seats up for grabs.

Bishop Marcel Utembi, who heads the CENCO Catholic bishop conference, renewed his claim that the announced results are not in line with the data collected by its 40,000 observers, suggesting that Fayulu was the victor.

CENI was expected to unveil the results on Friday, but the announcement has already been postponed from Wednesday and the timing is uncertain.

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