Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi: son, heir and president-elect

DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi: son, heir and president-elect

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won the long-awaited presidential poll in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the electoral commission said Thursday, paving the way for the country's first handover of power in 18 years.

Although he holds a Belgian diploma in marketing and communication, he has had little political or managerial experience with some detractors even suggesting his diploma is not valid.

Several Congo analysts agreed that it appeared Kabila made a quiet agreement with Tshisekedi, saying Fayulu would have posed more of a threat.

He took over from his assassinated father Laurent in 2001.

Fellow opposition candidate Fayulu who was backed by former Katanga governor Moise Katumbi - considered a traitor by Kabila - and ex-warlord and former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, has also sounded a conciliatory tone.

However, runner-up Martin Fayulu, who is also an opposition candidate, has described it as an "electoral coup".

He is the head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a party founded by his father Etienne who spent decades as the country's main opposition leader but died in February previous year.

"How long are we going to negotiate results?" he asked. Shadary conceded following the announcement of the results.

While bishops stopped short of publishing their own results or saying who they believed was the true victor, they made clear it wasn't Tshisekedi, as declared by election commission CENI.

Apart from the fact that majority of the observers expected the authorities to favour the anointed candidate of the president, Joseph Kabila - who picked Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to be his successor; there is increased concern over the position of Martin Fayulu, another opposition candidate who had a healthy lead in pre-election polling.

"The Congolese people will never accept such a fraud!"

South Africa urged the DRC to quickly certify the results and move past the election, while the European Union seems nervous about either endorsing or challenging the outcome.

Tshisekedi's camp has acknowledged contact with Kabila's representatives since the election but said they were aimed at ensuring a peaceful transition and denied a deal. From Kampala Mr Tshisekedi flew to Belgium and later the United States.

"Kabila will be able to influence Tshisekedi, who now owes his ascendancy to power to Kabila's control of the electoral commission". Protests did erupt in a few regions of the country, and four people were reported to be killed in clashes between police and protesters in Kikwit, a stronghold of Mr. Fayulu.

Moussa Faki Mahamat took cognizance of the provisional results of the presidential election in the DRC, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, according to an AU statement.

According to the initial timetable set out by the CENI, the definitive results are due on January 15 with the swearing-in of the new president three days later.

"The result of the presidential election as published by CENI does not correspond with the data collected by our observer mission from polling stations and counting centres", said Father Donatien Nshole, spokesman for CENCO, which represents the country's Catholic bishops.

The past two elections, in 2006 and 2011, both of which were won by Kabila, were marred by bloodshed and many fear a repeat of the violence if there is a belief that the result has been fixed.

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