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What next for DR Congo after disputed elections?

By Anthony Mukhena | January 23rd 2019

On December 30, the people of DR Congo went to the polls to elect a new president to succeed Joseph Kabila. The much-delayed elections offered an opportunity for the vast central African nation to witness a peaceful transfer of power.

However, the country's electoral commission barred voting in opposition strongholds. It cited an Ebola outbreak and violence as the reasons for postponing the elections until March. By this time, the country will have a new president.

The world over, no elections are immune from challenges. But why are African elections so inseparable from controversy? In this age of technology, one wonders why election results, however vast a country is, would take long to be declared and be shrouded in secrecy.

Delaying the release of election results does little to prop up claims of a free and fair exercise. Instead it raises tension, which is a bad thing for country on the edge like DR Congo.

In the pre-vote polls, the compromise opposition candidate Martin Fayulu was widely expected to win. The Catholic Church dispatched over 40,000 observers to monitor the elections and according to its tally, Fayulu won by a wide margin, defeating Kabila's protege Emmanuel Shadary and Felix Tshisekedi.

Fayulu claimed there was a backroom deal between Kabila and Tshisekedi's camps. France and the African Union have cast doubts on the poll results. It is these doubts that deny president-elect Tshisekedi the much-needed legitimacy to rule.

It is only the Southern African Development Community that has given the election results a clean bill of health. But the community is dominated by South Africa whose interests in DR Congo cannot be denied.

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