DRC Hits Back at AU; “Outsiders Can’t Control our Courts”

Congo's Communications Minister, Lambert Mende.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) on Friday reacted angrily after the African Union leaders called for suspension of the proclamation of the December 30 presidential election results, in which the continental body said there were “serious doubts” regarding the authenticity of the provisional declared results.

Basing on provisional results, DR Congo electoral body known as CENI announced opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi won the Dec. 30 poll, ahead of rival candidate Martin Fayulu, who has disputed the outcome and has since gone to court to challenge it.

Fayulu, who is backed by the most influential Catholic Church claims the electoral body cheated him in favor of Tshisekedi, whom he accuses of signing a “secret” deal with outgoing president Kabila.

The surprising request by AU leaders seem to contradict a statement earlier on Thursday from a smaller group of heads of state from southern Africa that had expressed support for Congo’s electoral process and warned other external forces  against intervening.

The call for suspension comes following an urgent meeting of select African heads of state on Thursday in Ethiopia to try to resolve DR Congo’s presidential election results dispute after allegations of fraud were cited during elections. The meeting was attended by regional heads.

The constitutional body has eight days from when Fayulu’s appeal was lodged on January 11 to rule on the matter. If the constitutional court rules in the favor of Tshisekendi, DR Congo may for the first time see a peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence in 1960.

DR Congo’s communications minister Lambert Mende dismissed as “interference” Thursday’s announcement by AU leaders, a position that represents the most strident criticism towards President Joseph Kabila by his fellow African leaders.

“Nobody can tell our judicial courts what to do. The outsiders cannot be allowed to control our courts,” Mende said by phone from the capital, Kishasa on Friday.

He said his country will only welcome their partners from AU next week in the country for consultation purposes.

Fayulu insists he is the clear winner and that he won with almost 59.4 percent of the vote, according to the election data collected by his team from 86 percent of the votes cast across the country.

The election data released by the Catholic Church known as Cenco from poling offices also show, the declared winner Felix Tshisekedi should have finished second with 19 per cent and Shadary- Kabila’s preferred candidate at 18 per cent.

In a statement by the Heads of State and Government present at the “high level” meeting held in Addis Ababa on Thursday, January 17, 2019, concluded “with serious doubts as to the conformity of the provisional results, proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the verdict of the ballot boxes.”

“As a result, the Heads of State and Government called for the suspension of the proclamation of the final election results,” AU leaders said in a statement.

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