Supporters of Congo’s president-elect celebrated an unlikely win on Thursday, but the runner-up denounced a fix and France, Belgium and the Catholic Church all cast doubt on the results.
A chaotic vote in the vast and volatile nation of 80 million people has raised fears of renewed violence, and at least two people were killed in clashes at one town in the west.
But most parts of the country were calm.
The electoral commission (CENI) announced around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, 55, had won the Dec. 30 vote, edging out another opposition candidate, businessman Martin Fayulu.
Fayulu called the results an “electoral coup” engineered by outgoing President Joseph Kabila to deny him the presidency.
France said the outcome was at odds with tallies provided by observers from the Catholic Church. These showed Fayulu winning, according to three diplomats briefed on the findings.
Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Vidiye Tshimanga, later said Kabila and Tshisekedi had not met personally since the election but that their representatives had convened several times.
Supporters of Martin Fayulu, the opposition candidate who had a healthy pre-election poll lead, have voiced suspicions Kabila may be looking to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with Tshisekedi if his preferred candidate, Shadary, loses.
Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, a spokesman for Shadary and one of Kabila’s senior advisers, denied there had been contacts with Tshisekedi or his representatives.
Kabila is due to step down this month after 18 years in power. His refusal to go when his mandate expired in 2016 sparked protests in which security forces killed dozens of people.
Delays, storms mar start to Congo’s presidential vote
Voting in Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-anticipated presidential election got off to a shaky start on Sunday due to torrential rain in the capital, long delays at some polling stations and broken-down machines.
Voters in three Congolese cities known as opposition strongholds will be excluded from presidential elections on security and health grounds, officials said, in a move that looks certain to inflame political tensions before Sunday’s ballot.
After meeting at UN headquarters in New York, the UN Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council said in a joint statement that the December 23 elections “must lead to a peaceful and democratic transfer of power, in accordance with the constitution.”
Hours earlier, President Joseph Kabila delivered a state of the union address in which he vowed to “unequivocally respect the constitution” but did not clearly state that he would not seek re-election.