Elections for a successor to President Joseph Kabila were finally held on 30 December.

The main candidates were Ramazani Shadary (Kabila’s chosen successor), Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayalu. The Congolese Electoral Commission, CENI, announced on 6 January that Tshisekedi was the winner. The Catholic Church had approximately 40 000 election observers on the ground and claimed that, according to their data, Martin Fayulu was the clear winner. Fayulu launched a court bid, subsequently dismissed, to challenge the election results. Subsequent events developed rapidly. Please click on the links to access source material:

On Sunday 13 January, SADC released a statement calling for  “all political leaders to consider a negotiated settlement for an all-inclusive government,” while simultaneously saying a “recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers.” The ICGLR released a statement saying the same, nuancing the recount demand as “shedding more light on all the elements of doubt” to safeguard the electoral process, and that the final count should have full transparency. In a tweet, RFI journalist Sonia Rolley indicated that SA foreign minister Lindiwe Sisulu was echoing the same SADC language in her remarks to the press.

In a statement the following weekend, there was clarification from the SADC Secretariat and DIRCO disavowing any support for a recount or all-inclusive unity government, as was recommended in Sunday’s statements. Zambia was also quoted in the press as walking back from those statements. This underscored the struggle for SA and SADC to communicate consistently and in a unified way about what’s happening in DRC. It also reflected the turbulent situation in the DRC.

Financial Times published an article claiming they’ve analyzed two separate collections of voting data and conclude that Fayulu is the clear winner. They make a compelling case. Africa Confidential also publicized the leaked CENI results that point to an overwhelming Fayulu victory. This, with the recent FT article, shows compelling evidence of fraudulent voting results.

On 17 January the AU issued another statement – AU heads of state statement on DRC. They called for the “suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections,” and agreed to “urgently dispatch to DRC a high-level delegation” that will include Moussa Faki, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, the Chairperson of the AU and other heads of state. There’s more in this FT article.

17 January: a new article appeared in Jeune Afrique based on confidential sources that shed light on what AU heads of state discussed. The key points in the article:

  • AU heads of state will visit DRC the following  Monday, to include President Kagame, AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki, Namibian President Hage Geingob, Zambian President Edgar Lungu, and President Ramaphosa.
  • In the meeting, all AU heads of state quickly agreed that CENI’s results did not conform to the reality.
  • According to JA’s source, the heads of state strongly believe that Fayulu is the real winner, which is behind their comment in the statement of having “serious doubts” about the results and their wish to have the announcement of the final results suspended.
  • The delegation will present two choices to Kabila: that CENI proclaims Fayulu the winner, or organize a new “inclusive” election that also involves exiled political candidates. If the latter happens, it should be done by an intermediary government, without Kabila’s involvement.
  • AU heads of state had very severe criticism of Kabila during their four-hour meeting. Angolan President Lourenço had the harshest criticism; President Museveni exhibited videos of purported massacres in the country’s east. President Lungu was of the same line.
  • The most reticient head of state was President Ramaphosa. Faced with the unanimity of the others, he was unable to resist.

According to JA’s source, Ramaphosa confided to the others that Kabila contacted him to ask whether a part of his family could be resided in protection in South Africa

 Over the weekend of 19 – 20 January:

  • The Constitutional Court confirmed Tshisekedi’s victory
  • The court proclaimed that Fayulu did not have evidence that CENI’s results didn’t conform with reality, and that “only CENI has produced the authentic and sincere results.”
  • AU heads of state made quick endorsements. One of the first was Burundian president Nkurunziza, followed by President Ramaphosa, then the SADC Secretariat, and the AU, among several others.
  • The AU quickly postponed the planned heads-of-state delegation to DRC once the court announced its verdict
  • Fayulu released a statement proclaiming himself as the “sole legitimate President-elect of the DRC,” calling on his supporters to organize demonstrations.
  • Meanwhile, African heads of state are appealing for calm, peace, and stability in the wake of the court’s verdict
  • Internet services have been re-established in the country

Johan Viljoen

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