DR Congo's Catholic Church says its election tally shows different victor

DR Congo's Catholic Church says its election tally shows different victor

DR Congo's Catholic Church says its election tally shows different victor

In this context, it is important that any challenge to the provisional results, including claims of inconsistencies with the verdict of the ballot box, be pursued peacefully, through avenues provided by the existing national legal framework, and political dialogue among all stakeholders.

Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the largest opposition party, has been declared the victor of the long-delayed presidential election to replace Joseph Kabila.

Shouts of joy erupted at the commission's offices as the results were announced early on Thursday morning, AFP journalists reported.

At stake is political stewardship of the notoriously unstable central African nation, which has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Fayulu urged the Catholic Church to release the results from its team of 40,000 observers who recorded voting tallies posted at each of the polling centers.

"On the face of it, Mr Fayulu was the leader coming out of these elections", he said.

"We see that the result of the presidential election as published by CENI (the electoral commission) does not correspond with the data collected by our observer mission from polling stations and counting centres", said Father Donatien Nshole, spokesman for the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), which represents the country's Catholic bishops.

"This is not a bad result at all for the ruling party", said Stephanie Wolters, an analyst at the Institute for Security Studies, in South Africa. "Those of us who have followed this very closely have all been told that there were conversations behind the scenes between Tshisekedi and Kabila".

"Mr Kabila can not stay and make an arrangement with someone who will not have any power".

About 40% of DR Congo's population is Roman Catholic and the church has a wide network of schools and hospitals.

Tshisekedi "owes his ascendancy to power to Kabila's control of the electoral commission", and in exchange Kabila would look for immunity from any prosecution or asset seizure after handing over power, Besseling said.

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Has there been any violence?

The difference between Tshisekedi and Fayulu in official results was some 684,000 votes.

There are fears the result could trigger unrest, with at least two people killed in the western city of Kikwit on Thursday.

There were reports of several hundred students protesting against the result and being dispersed by tear gas in the town of Mbandaka.

There were celebrations in parts of Kinshasa and the south of the country, where Tshisekedi has broad support.

The election's supervisors, facing mounting pressure at home and overseas, signalled that the keenly awaited results would be unveiled later in the day.

Tshisekedi's margin over Fayulu was less than 700,000 votes, according to the official results. About 18.3 million votes were cast, representing turnout of nearly 48 percent.

How has the result been received?

Fayulu asked earlier. "In 2006, Jean-Pierre Bemba's victory was stolen". Le Drian called for calm and clarity in the true election tally.

African Union leader Moussa Faki Mahamat was similarly restrained.

The US hailed the "courageous" Congolese voters and called for a "clarification of questions which have been raised regarding the electoral count".

The church did not name anyone in its statement, and urged all parties to refrain from violence. 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 victor.

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