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10 Jan, 2024 13:10

President of conflict-torn African state wins second term

Felix Tshisekedi has been reelected as leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo with more than 73% of the vote
President of conflict-torn African state wins second term

The Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday declared President Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the nation’s recent elections, having rejected legal challenges against the provisional results released by the electoral commission.

The decision gives Tshisekedi a second five-year term as leader of the conflict-torn Central African nation. Despite being the world’s top producer of cobalt and the third-largest supplier of copper, DR Congo is one of the five poorest countries on the planet, according to the World Bank.

Opposition candidates have alleged electoral fraud and demanded a rerun of the December presidential and parliamentary elections, which independent observers claim were marred by widespread irregularities following an unscheduled extension of voting triggered by reported 'logistical issues'.

Theodore Ngoyi, one of the 18 contenders for the DR Congo presidency, filed a lawsuit after preliminary results indicated Tshisekedi obtained more than 73% of the vote. One Congolese citizen also submitted an appeal against the results. Other candidates, including Moise Katumbi, the president’s main rival, have declined to challenge the election outcome in court, citing distrust in state institutions.

On Tuesday, the constitutional tribunal ruled that Ngoyi’s petition to rerun the vote over claims that the counting process had undermined the ballot’s fairness was unfounded. The court declared that irregularities could not have influenced the results given the wide gap between Tshisekedi and runner-up Katumbi, who received around 18% of the vote.

Even when taking reported irregularities and their influence on the ballot into account, the order of arrival is not disrupted,” the court’s president, Dieudonne Kamuleta, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Ngoyi, who received approximately 0.02% of total ballots, has reportedly expressed regret that electoral laws could not address his complaint, which he described as a “shameful situation.”

Our position remains the same: we did not witness credible elections,” opposition candidate Martin Fayulu said after the court verdict, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Congo’s former colonial ruler, Belgium, congratulated Tshisekedi on his victory and asked the electoral commission to conduct investigations into the alleged election irregularities.

Tshisekedi, 60, took office in 2019 in the country’s first peaceful power transition since independence from Belgium more than six decades ago. He will be sworn in for a second term at the end of this month.

He has pledged to build on the gains of his previous term, including resolving a protracted conflict with rebel factions in the country’s eastern region after demanding the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers. Tshisekedi has threatened to declare war on neighboring Rwanda, which has long been accused of financing the M23 rebel group, one of dozens of militant organizations involved in deadly violence in DR Congo.