KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The Latest on Congo's presidential election results. All times local:
The advocacy group The Enough Project warns that Felix Tshisekedi's victory in Congo's presidential election, as announced by the electoral commission, may be challenged. Sasha Lezhnev, deputy director of Enough Project, which focuses on Africa, said the official results should be compared to the tallies compiled by the Catholic Church which deployed 40,000 observers across Congo and independently added up the voting results posted outside each polling station. Lezhnev said the international community must watch the process closely. "If it looks like the vote was indeed rigged and that Kabila is actually staying in power via a backroom deal, then sanctions and other financial pressure should ensue," said Lezhnev. "It's critical for the U.S., European Union to do much more to hold officials and businesses involved in high-level corruption accountable through anti-money laundering measures, network sanctions, and prosecutions."
France's foreign minister is casting doubt on Congo's presidential election results proclaiming opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi the surprise winner.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday on CNews television that the results "do not conform with the results that we have noticed." He cited the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Congo, saying the group "made verifications and announced results that are totally different."
Le Drian didn't elaborate.
Tshisekedi had not been considered the leading candidate, and rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu denounced the victory as fraud.
The French foreign minister urged calm and called on African leaders and organizations to ensure that the proclaimed results "are the real election results." The international community has been closely watching the Congo election.
Supporters of opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi took to the streets of Congo's capital, Kinshasa, Thursday morning to celebrate his win in the presidential election, that was announced by the electoral commission.
The candidate of Congo's ruling party, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who came third in the official results, has through his spokeswoman congratulated the winner, Felix Tshisekedi. Me Aime Kilolo, spokeswoman for Shadary, said the electoral commission's announcement of Tshisekedi as the winner was "the will of the people." She said Shadary would make a statement on the results in a few hours.
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 "rise as one man 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 negotiate results?" asked 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."
Congo opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has been declared winner of the long-delayed, disorganized and controversial presidential election, in an announcement by the electoral commission early Thursday that surprised many, as the vast country braced for possible protests over alleged rigging.
Tshisekedi, who received more than 7 million votes, or 38 percent, according to the official results, had not been widely considered the leading candidate and is relatively untested. The son of late opposition leader Etienne, who pursued Congo's presidency for many years, he startled Congolese shortly before the election by breaking away from an opposition effort to unite behind a single candidate.
Tshisekedi's victory was quickly denounced by opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who claimed the results were rigged. Fayulu denounced the results as an "electoral hold up" and urged protests.