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December 10, 2011

Congo Opposition Set to Challenge Poll Results

by Peter Clottey

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a leading member of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) said his party will begin mounting a legal challenge of the outcome of the presidential election Monday.

Monday is the deadline for the participating parties to officially challenge the outcome of the vote.

Aime Boji, who was just re-elected as a member of parliament, says his party wants the presidential and legislative elections annulled and re-held. His comments came after a team of international election observers said the results of last month's disputed presidential election were “mismanaged” and lack credibility.

The U.S.-based Carter Center said the vote, in which President Joseph Kabila was re-elected, was marred by wide variations in the quality of vote counting.

In a statement released late Saturday, the center said there was evidence that results from nearly 2,000 polling stations in the capital, Kinshasa, were lost. It said that multiple locations around the country reported 99-to-100 percent voter turnout, with most or all of the votes going to the incumbent president.

Boji said the assessment of the poll observers demonstrate the vote was fraught with irregularities and fraud.

“Indeed, there were so many irregularities: ballot papers not being delivered to polling stations, rigging in many places and intimidation of voters. Basically, anything that should not take place on Election Day took place,” added Boji.

Last Friday, Congo’s electoral commission declared incumbent Joseph Kabila winner of the November 28 poll.  However, his top challenger, longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, has rejected the results and declared himself president.

Some analysts say it’s unlikely the Supreme Court will overrule the electoral commission’s declaration. But, Boji said despite the herculean task, his party has proof that the election was not credible.

“We know that in the DRC our justice system is not fair. And we also know that during the election the president replaced all Supreme Court judges [high Magistrates] and he appointed new ones,” said Boji. “We know that the plan is, whatever complaints are made in the Supreme Court, basically nothing happens and that his position is maintained.”

He expressed hope that the international community’s focus on the judicial process would encourage the judges to be impartial in their deliberation.

“Obviously, this is not only a Congolese issue, it is now being watched the world over… and it would be interesting to see how the court behaves in the face of so many complaints,” said Boji. “It’s not only my party which is going to complain, I am aware of the fact that UDPF and other candidates will file complaints in the Supreme Court.”

In an interview with VOA, Vitale Kamerhe, presidential candidate for the UNC, insists main challenger Etienne Tshisekedi won the presidential vote.