Opponents protest as DR Congo’s Tshisekedi wins election by landslide

Allegations of fraud made against incumbent who secured almost three-quarters of votes after drawn-out polling

Felix Tshisekedi secured a second five-year term as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a landslide election victory that his main opponents rejected.

Mr Tshisekedi won 73.3 per cent of the votes cast on December 20th, according to provisional results announced Sunday by the country’s electoral commission, known as CENI. Businessman and soccer-team owner Moise Katumbi came in second with about 18.1 per cent.

The election is the fourth since Congo moved to become a multi-party democracy in 2006 after decades of dictatorship and war that turned the resource-rich nation into one of the world’s poorest countries.

Mr Tshisekedi (60) has vowed to change that in his second term, promising to develop a “new climate economy”. Congo has world-class deposits of key green-energy minerals like copper and cobalt, huge hydropower potential and the world’s second-biggest tropical forest — an essential bulwark against climate change.


Observers found the election to have been generally peaceful, but major logistical delays that stretched voting over several days infuriated opposition candidates and their supporters. Multiple polling stations were ransacked or burned and voting machines destroyed, and CENI plans to rerun the election in some places.

The “irregularities” threatened the credibility of the vote in certain locations, according to the 25,000-person observer mission of Congo’s powerful Catholic and Protestant churches.

The outcome of a concurrent vote for provincial and local government representatives will be announced at a later date.

Provisional turnout was 43.3 per cent of 44 million registered voters. More than 1.5 million people were not able to cast ballots because of ongoing violence in two territories in eastern Congo and one in the west.

Eastern Congo is still beset by dozens of armed groups fighting over land, resources and ethnic cleavages. Nearly seven million people are currently displaced from their homes mainly due to conflict, according to the United Nations.

Candidates now have a short period to formally challenge the results at the constitutional court. Mr Katumbi has already rejected that path, accusing the tribunal of being biased toward Mr Tshisekedi.

In a statement released Sunday, Mr Katumbi, 2018 presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu and seven other candidates said the results were a “fraud” and demanded a new election.

They called on the population “to protest massively in the street” against the “thieves of our voices”. A small protest against the vote last week was stopped by police with tear gas. Contingents of soldiers and police were deployed around parts of Kinshasa on Sunday. The government has also sent soldiers to the copper-and-cobalt-rich Katanga region, where Mr Katumbi was previously governor.

Observers from the churches, the Carter Center and others are yet to release their final reports on the vote. Congo’s last two elections were undermined by allegations of widespread fraud. In 2018, leaked results from CENI and a parallel count by observers from the Catholic Church suggested Mr Fayulu won the poll. - Bloomberg