SADC calls for emergency meeting over DRC poll

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday in Addis Ababa to discuss Democratic Republic of Congo’s disputed presidential election, an adviser to President Joseph Kabila told Reuters.

Kabila’s diplomatic adviser, Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, said he would attend Thursday’s meeting. It was not immediately clear who else from Congo would be present.

SADC, which includes key regional allies of Kinshasa like South Africa and Angola, on Sunday called for a recount but South Africa and Zambia backtracked on Monday.

Runner-up Martin Fayulu, who led pre-election polls, filed a fraud complaint with the country’s highest court on Saturday, asking for a recount of official results which gave victory to another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi.

Hearings into Fayulu’s fraud complaint are due to open at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

January 13: Great Lakes Regional body calls for vote recount

The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL), a 12-member body including Kinshasa allies Angola and Republic of Congo, expressed “great concern” at the controversy.

“We suggest that the competent structures consider counting the votes in order to guarantee the transparency of the results,” it added in a statement.

This becomes the second African bloc to call for a recount of Democratic Republic of Congo’s contested presidential election, after the Southern African Development Community (SADC) voiced the same opinion on Sunday.

International pressure on Kabila has built since the vote, in part because Congo’s influential Catholic Church said tallies by its 40,000-strong monitoring team show a different winner to that announced by the electoral commission.

Approval of the election results from regional partners are critical for the legitimacy of president-elect Tshisekedi.

January 13: SADC calls for vote recount

Democratic Republic of Congo should recount the votes of its contested presidential election that the runner-up says was rigged, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Sunday.

The Dec. 30 poll was supposed to mark Congo’s first uncontested democratic transfer of power in 59 years of restive independence and the beginning of a new era following 18 years of chaotic rule by President Joseph Kabila.

But runner-up Martin Fayulu claims that he in fact won by a landslide and that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with Kabila to be declared victor. Tshisekedi and Kabila deny this.

Congo’s Catholic Church has said that tallies compiled by its 40,000-strong monitoring team show a different winner to those announced by the electoral commission, without saying who.

Isolated post-election violence across the massive, mineral-rich country of 80 million people has many fearing a return to the kind of civil-war unrest that have killed millions since the 1990s.

“A recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers,” SADC said in a statement.

SADC, which includes old Kabila allies Angola and South Africa, recommended a government of national unity including parties representing Kabila, Fayulu and Tshisekedi that could promote peace.

“SADC draws the attention of Congolese politicians to similar arrangements that were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya” that created the “necessary stability for durable peace,” the statement said.

The chance of this kind of unity in Congo appear slim for now. Fayulu, who is backed by bitter political rivals of Kabila, on Saturday filed a formal election complaint with the Constitutional Court.

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