clearn.png
Wednesday May 22nd, 2019 11:36PM

Congo court poised to rule on presidential vote challenge

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's constitutional court is poised to rule on a challenge to the presidential election, with the government on Friday dismissing an unprecedented request by the African Union continental body to delay releasing the final results because of "serious doubts" about the vote.

Upholding the official results could spark new violence in a country hoping for its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960. At least 34 people have been killed since provisional results were released on Jan. 10, the United Nations said.

The AU on Monday will send a high-level delegation to Congo to address the crisis in the vast Central African nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones and electric cars around the world. Its neighbors are concerned that unrest could spill across borders.

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende called the matter one for the country's judicial bodies, and "the independence of our judiciary is no problem."

The declared runner-up in the Dec. 30 election, Martin Fayulu, has requested a recount, alleging fraud. He asserts that Congo's electoral commission published provisional results wildly different from those obtained at polling stations.

Fayulu welcomed the AU's stance and urged Congolese to support it.

Congo faces the extraordinary accusation of an election allegedly rigged in favor of the opposition. Fayulu's supporters have asserted that outgoing President Joseph Kabila made a backroom deal with the declared winner, Felix Tshisekedi, when the ruling party's candidate did poorly.

The electoral commission has said Tshisekedi won 38 percent of the vote and Fayulu 34 percent. However, leaked data published by some media outlets, attributed to the electoral commission and representing 86 percent of the votes, show that Fayulu won 59.4 percent while Tshisekedi received 19 percent.

The uncertainty has led to some protests. The U.N. rights office in Congo has documented 59 people wounded since provisional results were announced on Jan. 10, along with 241 "arbitrary arrests."

The court could uphold the election results, order a recount or order a new election.

It has until Wednesday to rule, according to Willy Wenga, an expert on electoral law. The court has seven working days, but this week included two holidays and Sunday is not a working day.

It is likely that the court, full of Kabila appointees, will confirm Tshisekedi's victory, said Adeline Van Houtte, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"It will come with the risk of increased instability, which could put a halt on the electoral transition," Van Houtte said in a statement. "However, it would also mean that Kabila will have avoided the worst-case scenario for him," a Fayulu presidency.

Fayulu, a lawmaker and businessman who is outspoken about cleaning up Congo's sprawling corruption, is seen as more of a threat to Kabila, his allies and their vast wealth. Tshisekedi, the son of charismatic opposition leader Etienne who died in 2017, is relatively untested and has said little since the election.

The vote came after more than two turbulent years of delays as many Congolese worried that Kabila, in power since 2001, was seeking a way to stay in office. Barred from serving three consecutive terms, Kabila already has hinted he might run again in 2023.

All of the election results, not just in the presidential race, have been questioned after Kabila's ruling coalition won a majority in legislative and provincial votes while its presidential candidate finished a distant third.

Internet service, cut off in Congo the day after the vote to dampen speculation on the results, still has not returned.

Election observers reported multiple problems, including the last-minute barring of some 1 million voters in the east, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola outbreak. Fayulu asked the court to declare that the commission violated the constitution by not organizing elections in certain constituencies.

But for some Congolese who campaigned hard for Kabila to step aside, having an opposition figure take power is enough, despite questions about the vote.

Reflecting the yearning for stability, 33 Congolese non-governmental groups and civil society movements on Thursday called on people to comply with whatever the court rules to "preserve the peace" in the interest of "national unity."

___

Petesch reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writers Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed.

___

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Defending champ gone: Sharapova ousts Wozniacki in Australia
Maria Sharapova eliminated defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open's fourth round
2:54AM ( 54 minutes ago )
17-year-old from Jersey, Anisimova, wins at Australian Open
All of 17, never the winner of a Grand Slam match until this week, Amanda Anisimova is making quite a first impression at the Australian Open
2:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Sloane Stephens advances at Australian Open
Sloane Stephens survived two tough tiebreak seats to beat No. 31-seeded Petra Martic 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) and advance to the fourth round at Melbourne Park
2:29AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
MLK holiday represents big moment for 2020 Democrats
Monday's observance of what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.'s 90th birthday is emerging as an important moment for Democrats eyeing the White House to talk about one of the most divisive issues in politics: race
1:21AM ( 2 hours ago )
Could Dems' 2020 nominee be someone you've never heard of?
Few people know Pete Buttigieg's name outside South Bend, Indiana, the Rust Belt community where he's mayor, but none of that has deterred him from contemplating a 2020 Democratic presidential bid
12:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
African Union urges Congo to suspend final election results
In a surprise, African Union urges Congo to suspend final vote results over 'serious doubts'
6:30PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Elections
Facebook shuts hundreds of Russia-linked pages, accounts
Facebook shuts hundreds of Russia-linked pages and accounts it says were part of two big disinformation operations
10:28AM ( 17 hours ago )
2020 Democrats face a choice: Fight Trump or ignore him?
As the Democratic primary gets underway, Democrats must decide how _ and whether _ to respond to Trump's pugnacious and insensitive attacks on his political opponents
6:06AM ( 21 hours ago )
Castro explains Puerto Rico campaign trip: 'Everyone counts'
Democrat Julian Castro is in New Hampshire for the first time as a presidential candidate, and his message to voters is that he believes "everyone counts."
3:34PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Iran state TV says its US-born newscaster to appear in court
Iran's state-run English-language channel is reporting its American anchorwoman detained in the U.S. will appear in court in Washington
12:27AM ( 3 hours ago )
Deadly car bombing in Colombia underscores lingering threats
Colombian authorities were scrambling to identify who was behind a brazen car bombing at a police academy in Bogota that has raised tough questions about lingering security threats in the wake of a peace deal with the nation's largest rebel group
12:12AM ( 3 hours ago )
Chinese ambassador warns Canada to stop rallying allies
China's ambassador to Canada is warning the Canadian government to stop recruiting international support in its feud with China and has threatened retaliation if Canada bans Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei for security reasons
6:20PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP World News
Defending champ gone: Sharapova ousts Wozniacki in Australia
Maria Sharapova eliminated defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open's fourth round
2:54AM ( 54 minutes ago )
17-year-old from Jersey, Anisimova, wins at Australian Open
All of 17, never the winner of a Grand Slam match until this week, Amanda Anisimova is making quite a first impression at the Australian Open
2:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Sloane Stephens advances at Australian Open
Sloane Stephens survived two tough tiebreak seats to beat No. 31-seeded Petra Martic 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) and advance to the fourth round at Melbourne Park
2:29AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: 2018 champion Wozniacki ousted by Sharapova
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki is out of the Australian Open after losing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to Maria Sharapova in the third round
2:14AM ( 1 hour ago )
Watchdog: Thousands more children may have been separated
Government investigators say thousands more migrant children may have been separated from their parents than previously reported
2:13AM ( 1 hour ago )