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Congo Constitutional Court Begins Election Appeal Hearing

Accompanied by his wife and his lawyers, Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, center, petitions the constitutional court following his loss in the presidential elections in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 12, 2019.

Congo's Constitutional Court on Tuesday began hearing an appeal against the presidential election results lodged by opposition candidate Martin Fayulu.

Lawyers represented both Fayulu and the declared winner Felix Tshisekedi at the court in Kinshasa, the capital. Election commission representatives also attended.

The court must rule on the appeal by Saturday.

Fayulu filed a court challenge over the weekend demanding a recount, claiming that he won the presidential race with 61 percent of the vote, according to results compiled by the influential Catholic Church's 40,000 election observers.

Fayulu charges that the results were falsified to declare Tshisekedi the winner, although he came in a distant second place according to the Catholic Church's results.

Congo's electoral commission has said Tshisekedi won 38 percent of the vote and Fayulu 34 percent.

“The CENI (electoral commission) has published results other than those posted in front of polling stations, so we are asking for a recount,” said Fayulu's lawyer Ekombe Mpetshi.

Electoral Commission executive secretary Rossard Malonga, however, said results could not be cancelled.

Regional groups representing neighboring countries are suggesting the formation of a government of national unity and a possible recount of votes to avoid instability, putting new pressure on the government of outgoing President Joseph Kabila to find a peaceful and transparent solution to a growing electoral crisis in one of Africa's largest and most mineral-rich nations.

Congo's 80 million people have been largely peaceful since the Dec. 30 vote but at least a dozen people have been killed in protests.