News / Africa

Incumbent President Lost DRC Vote, Says Opposition Candidate

Opposition UDPS members hold up blood-splattered poster of leader Etienne Tshisekedi after presidential guard opened fire on crowd outside N'Djili airport in Kinshasa, November 26, 2011.
Opposition UDPS members hold up blood-splattered poster of leader Etienne Tshisekedi after presidential guard opened fire on crowd outside N'Djili airport in Kinshasa, November 26, 2011.

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  • Clottey interview with Vitale Kamerhe, DRC presidential candidate

Peter Clottey

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is scheduled to release the final results of the presidential and legislative elections today (Tuesday).

An opposition candidate insists main challenger Etienne Tshisekedi won the presidential vote despite initial figures showing incumbent Joseph Kabila ahead in the poll.

Vitale Kamerhe said the opposition parties are united in their rejection of the outcome, citing voter irregularities and fraud.

“We refuse the results from [electoral chief] Pastor Mulunda because he presented wrong results and we cannot accept it.”

Several opposition parties say CENI skewed the presidential election in Mr. Kabila’s favor – an accusation denied by commission officials.

Both the African Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center poll observer missions encouraged the parties to accept the results of the presidential and legislative elections, despite problems encountered by the electoral commission in administering the vote.

African Union and other African observers have said the election was successful despite logistical problems.

Analysts have expressed concern that the opposition’s decision to reject the outcome could plunge the country into chaos. Kamerhe said the international community should intervene to prevent tension, avoid bloodshed and maintain peace.

“During the press conference, I asked [for] African mediation, because we must talk now and come up with solutions -- before all the results are published,” said Kamerhe. “I asked Pastor Mulunda to postpone the publication of the results to keep peace, because we are at a very critical moment in our country.”

Some of the president’s supporters rejected opposition calls to postpone the release of the results, saying the move would create a constitutional crisis. Kabila’s term is officially scheduled to end on December 6. But Kamerhe said Congolese will have to determine their fate, despite the constitutional requirement.

“That belongs to the people. The people are the ones to determine their future,” said Kamerhe. “The people don’t like Kabila now. The people chose Tshisekedi and the opposition and if Kabila wants something, then he must go to Tshisekedi [for dialogue].”

He also said President Kabila has turned down several opposition attempts to meet with them to resolve their concerns ahead of the announcement of the outcome.

“He refused to talk to us,” said Kamerhe. “But I am for the talks because dialogue is good to prevent conflicts.”

Thousands of people are fleeing Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, fearing the announcement of election results Tuesday will spark violence. Police in the neighboring Congo Republic say at least 3,000 people have arrived in the capital, Brazzaville, since December 2.

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