The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s election crisis deepened early on Sunday when the Constitutional Court confirmed the win of Felix Tshisekedi, rejecting claims of fraud, and runner-up Martin Fayulu promptly declared himself the country’s “only legitimate president”.
Fayulu’s supporters have alleged an extraordinary backroom deal by outgoing President Joseph Kabila to rig the vote in favour of the opposition after the ruling party’s candidate did so poorly that a Plan B was needed. Neither side has acknowledged the accusations.
The court, however, said Fayulu offered no proof to back his assertions that he had won easily based on leaked data attributed to the electoral commission.
Fayulu urged Congolese to take to the streets to peacefully protest what he called a “constitutional coup d’etat,” accusing the court of validating false results. “It’s no secret … that you have elected me president,” he said.
“I consider myself the only legitimate president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I call on the Congolese people not to recognise someone who would take on that role illegitimately, nor (sic) to obey the orders coming from him,” he said.
Neither Congolese nor the international community should recognise Tshisekedi.
Tshisekedi said early on Sunday that the Constitutional Court’s decision confirming him as the winner of the presidential election was a victory for the entire country.
“It is Congo that won,” said Tshisekedi, speaking to his supporters after the court decision.
“It is not the victory of one camp against another. I am engaged in a campaign to reconcile all Congolese. … The Congo that we are going to form will not be a Congo of division, hatred or tribalism. It will be a reconciled Congo, a strong Congo that will be focused on development, peace and security.”
The largely untested Tshisekedi, son of the late, charismatic opposition leader Etienne, is set to be inaugurated on Tuesday. His supporters who had gathered outside the court cheered.
“It’s a shame that Mr Fayulu wants to stay isolated,” Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Vidiye Tshimanga, told The Associated Press. He said the two men once had been part of an opposition coalition demanding that Kabila step down.
The new president will need everyone for the reconstruction of the country, Tshimanga said as the Congolese people have “suffered a lot in recent years”.
Pierre Englebert, professor of international relations at Pomona College, told Al Jazeera that the decision of the court is not “surprising”.
“The court is widely understood as being populated with judges loyal to the president,” he said.
The court’s declaration came shortly after the African Union in an unprecedented move asked DRC to delay announcing the final election results, citing “serious doubts” about the vote.
It planned to send a high-level delegation on Monday to find a way out of the crisis, fearing unrest spilling across borders of the vast Central African nation.
Congo’s government replied it was up to the courts.
The court turned away Fayulu’s request for a recount in the December 30 vote.
Government spokesperson, Lambert Mende, quickly acknowledged the court’s decision, congratulating Tshisekedi as Congo’s fifth president.
“When you think about it, the brilliance of the arrangement that they have is now they have the supporters of the president, of Kabila himself, and the supporters of Tshisekedi being in favour of the decision, and therefore we spread the opposition,” Englebert said.— Al Jazeera