Brexit setback for May, US shutdown showdown and DR Congo election results

A Congolese citizen casting his ballot using an electronic voting machine

A Congolese citizen casting his ballot using an electronic voting machine

While violence was averted and democracy given a boost in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after Felix Tshisekedi of the main opposition party was announced the victor of the December 30 presidential elections, the runner-up Martin Fayulu has declared the results an "electoral coup".

Felix Tshisekedi of Congo's Union for Democracy and Social Progress opposition party won the long-delayed presidential election.

Tshisekedi's opponents were Martin Fayulu, who earned 6.4-million votes, and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary with 4.4-million votes.

Tshisekedi has promised a return to the rule of law, to fight the "gangrene" of corruption and to bring peace to the volatile east of the country, where several militias remain active more than 15 years after the end of DR Congo's bloody civil war.

Confirmation of the official results are due to be announced next Tuesday, three days before the new president is sworn in.

Campaign groups on Wednesday had called for the immediate release of the results and told people "to be prepared to go out onto the streets in massive numbers" if the outcome failed to accurately reflect the vote.

The presidents of Zambia and South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and Edgar Lungu respectively - have held talks about the situation in the Democratic Republic Congo. Election observers had reported numerous irregularities.

The announcement of DRC's 30 December election results will likely be delayed to March or April (while four excluded localities vote), effectively extending the administration of incumbent President Joseph Kabila through this period.

A statement by more than 300 organizations also alleges that electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa has been instructed by President Joseph Kabila's government to publish results from electronic transmission instead of from manual counting. The outgoing president succeeded his assassinated father in 2001 before winning elections in 2006 and again five years later.

The powerful religious institution deployed 40,000 election observers and is considered one of Congo's most influential and trusted institutions.

Polls put Fayulu on 44%, at least 20 points ahead of Tshisekedi.

Some Congolese tired of Kabila's long rule, two turbulent years of election delays and years of conflict that killed millions of people said they simply wanted peace.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Kinshasa that the results could lead to protests and allegations of rigging. "Only Martin Fayulu or Felix Tshisekedi's names can be accepted".

The 56-year-old Tshisekedi took over as head of Congo's most prominent opposition party in early 2018, a year after his father's death. He was less visible in campaigning than Fayulu and did not make himself available to reporters after the vote.

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