The Democratic Republic of Congo was still waiting early Thursday morning, as the 11:00 p.m. deadline for announcing results from the contentious December 30 presidential election came and went.
It was nearly two hours later when chief Corneille Nangaa and election officials with CENI, the national electoral commission, finally entered the room at Kinshasa headquarters. They began with a lengthy reading of other provincial race results before finally getting to the big announcement in the wee hours.
Felix Tshisekedi has won the election.
Each of the three main candidates for the presidency had declared themselves winner of the elections. They included Tshisekedi of the long-standing Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) opposition party, who watched the news from his headquarters; Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the Kabila-backed candidate of the Common Front for the Congo (FCC) coalition; and Martin Fayulu, the Engagement for Citizenship and Development (ECiDé) party candidate backed by the Lamuka coalition and widely considered the polling favorite.
Tshisekedi received 38.6 percent of the vote, followed by Fayulu at 34.8 percent. Shadary took just 23.8 percent.
CENI spent the day in preparations ahead of the announcement, amid tight security in the Congolese capital. Security forces guarded the streets outside CENI, while inside journalists and others milled about waiting for the decision. The late timing left some Congolese suspicious about CENI’s intent.
The developments followed a final appeal Wednesday from the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), the organization of DR Congo’s influential Roman Catholic bishops, for fair play.
“We are seeing increasing unrest on the part of the Congolese people who are waiting more and more impatiently for the election results to be published by the CENI,” the bishops said. “To candidates for the presidency of the Republic, we call for a sense of humility and, once again, electoral fair play for the losers. We invite them not to incite violence and to resort to legal remedies for any possible opposition to the provisional results published by the CENI.”
This is a developing story.