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Thursday February 27th, 2020 10:04AM

The Latest: Opposition candidate Fayulu denounces results

By The Associated Press
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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The Latest on Congo's presidential election (all times local):

5:50 a.m.

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu denounced the Congo election results as an "electoral hold up" that were "rigged, fabricated and invented" and do "not reflect the truth of the ballots." He called on the Congolese people to "raise as one men to protect victory."

Fayulu also called on the Catholic Church to release the results it got from its team of 40,000 observers who recorded voting tallies posted at each of the polling centers. Last week, the Catholic Church said their observations showed a clear winner.

Several diplomats briefed on the matter confirmed to The Associated Press that the figures compiled by the Catholic Church showed that Fayulu won an absolute majority of the votes. Two diplomats also said that all major observation missions, including from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, showed similar results with Fayulu the winner.

"How long are we going to negociate results ?" said Fayulu, of what he said was a deal made to declare Tshisekedi the winner. "In 2006, Jean-Pierre Bemba's victory was stolen, in 2011 Étienne Tshisekedi's victory was stolen. In 2018 victory won't be stolen from Martin Fayulu."

___

4:15 a.m.

A spokesman says the United Nations secretary-general "takes note" of the results of Congo's presidential election.

Congo's electoral commission, in a surprise for many, announced that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi won with 38 percent of the vote.

The opposition candidate who led in polls and had pledged to combat Congo's widespread corruption, Martin Fayulu, is expected to comment to reporters shortly.

The streets of the capital, Kinshasa, an opposition stronghold, are now quiet after a burst of celebration by people outside the electoral commission's offices.

The U.N statement calls on all parties to "refrain from violence" and "live up to their responsibility in preserving stability."

___

3:30 a.m.

Scores of Congolese are dancing and cheering outside the electoral commission at 3:30 in the morning after opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner of the presidential election.

This is the first time the vast country has seen a peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The election had been delayed for more than two years as many Congolese worried that President Joseph Kabila would try to stay in power.

Tshisekedi is the son of late opposition leader Etienne but is relatively unknown and untested. Speculation swirled this week that Kabila's government sought to make a deal as hopes faded for a ruling party win.

The opposition leader and corruption fighter who had led in polling, Martin Fayulu, finished second in the vote.

___

3:10 a.m.

Congo's electoral commission says opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has won the presidential election as the vast country braces for possible protests over alleged rigging.

Tshisekedi, who received more than 7 million votes, had not been widely considered the leading candidate. Some observers have suggested that President Joseph Kabila's government sought to make a deal as hopes faded for a win for ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Shadary received more than 4 million votes.

It is not immediately clear whether opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who led in polling and warned against manipulation, will contest the results. The constitutional court has 14 days to validate them. Fayulu received more than 6 million votes.

Tshisekedi, son of late opposition icon Etienne yet relatively unknown, has achieved what his father pursued for decades.

The delayed results come after international pressure to announce an outcome that reflected the will of the people. Election observers had reported numerous irregularities.

Kabila has ruled since 2001 in the troubled nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world. This could be Congo's first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960.

___

2 a.m.

Congo's electoral commission has begun announcing election results — starting with the names of hundreds of people who won provincial deputy seats.

The already delayed process could take hours before reaching the results of the presidential election.

Residents of the capital, Kinshasa, are still watching the live broadcast on state television long after midnight.

The vast country voted on Dec. 30 for a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled since 2001. The opposition and activist groups have warned of protests if the results do not match "the truth of the ballot boxes."

___

12:10 a.m.

Congo has marked midnight as the country waits for the delayed announcement of the results of the presidential election.

State television shows a noisy room where the electoral commission had been expected to make an announcement an hour ago.

Congolese activist groups have urged people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the commission does not publish results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes."

Congo on Dec. 30 voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila. The delay in announcing results has led some Congolese to suspect possible manipulation in favor of the ruling party.

___

5:45 p.m.

The United States is giving its citizens in Congo succinct advice: "Depart the country."

A new U.S. Embassy security alert says Congo's electoral commission is soon expected to announce results of the presidential election. It warns of possible crowds gathering to hear the results.

Congolese activist groups have urged people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the commission does not publish results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes."

Congo on Dec. 30 voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila. The delay in announcing results has led some Congolese to suspect possible manipulation in favor of the ruling party.

___

5:10 p.m.

Congo's electoral commission says "everything is ready" for provisional results of the presidential election to be announced today.

Spokeswoman Marie-France Idikayi tells The Associated Press that "we are waiting for the final deliberations of the electoral commission plenary session to end but the announcement room is prepared."

State television is in place to broadcast the results. Anti-riot police with water cannon are outside the building.

Congo on Dec. 30 voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila. Congolese activist groups are urging people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the commission does not publish results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes."

___

3 p.m.

Congolese activist groups are urging people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the electoral commission does not publish presidential election results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes."

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.

Carbone Beni with the Filimbi movement asserts that the manual court shows that the ruling party's candidate did not win.

Nangaa has blamed the delay in announcing results on the opposition's insistence on manual counting. Congo's first use of electronic voting machines in the Dec. 30 election led to widespread concern that they could be used to manipulate results.

___

2:15 p.m.

The presidents of South Africa and Zambia are urging Congo's electoral commission to "speedily" complete vote-counting and announce the delayed results of the Dec. 30 presidential election.

The statement released by South Africa's foreign ministry reflects pressure on Congo by regional powers who don't want to see the vast Central African nation return to widespread violence.

The statement says South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zambian President Edgar Lungu warn that the delay in releasing results "can lead to suspicions and compromise peace and stability of the country."

Congo's electoral commission is meeting to discuss the results and could announce them as early as Wednesday. Anti-riot police are positioned outside.

Congo's government has rejected Western pressure over the long-delayed election, calling it interference.

___

11:55 a.m.

Anti-riot police with water cannon and armored vehicles are outside Congo's electoral commission ahead of the announcement of the first results of the presidential election.

Residents of the capital, Kinshasa, say the heavy security presence is a bad sign.

Resident John Kabamba says it "may be a message that the publication (of the results) won't meet the expectations of the Congolese people."

The first results could be announced as early as Wednesday.

Congo on Dec. 30 voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila. He backs ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is under European Union sanctions.

Leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu has urged the electoral commission to announce the true results as quickly as possible and warned it not to "play with fire, it is very dangerous."

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