DR Congo presidential vote plagued by fraud, media investigation finds
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Lawyers for the runner-up in Democratic Republic of Congo's disputed election urged the Constitutional Court to order a recount of a poll that they said was rigged. A major new investigation confirms that the results have been falsified.
The electoral commission has yet to officially announce the results of the DR Congo presidential election, but a joint investigation by RFI and the Financial Times has revealed data that points to huge electoral fraud.
Analysis of voting results that represent 86 percent of the total votes cast shows Martin Fayulu as the clear winner of the election. However, this is in direct contradiction with the electoral commission’s claim that rival Felix Tshisekedi has won.
The December 30 election was meant to lead to Congo’s first democratic handover of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. But hope for a new era after 18 years of rule by President Joseph Kabila has faded amid a bitter dispute over the outcome that some fear could fan unrest.
The second-place finisher, former ExxonMobil executive Martin Fayulu, says he in fact won with more than 60 percent of votes based on tallies his camp compiled, and that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with Kabila to be declared the victor. Tshisekedi and Kabila deny this.
Hearings on a fraud complaint filed by Fayulu opened on Tuesday in a packed room at the Constitutional Court, which has until Friday to pass judgment.
In a bid to ward off public unrest, authorities shut down the internet across the country. This has hit businesses in major cities hard. It also prevents Congolese people from accessing reliable and independent information about the election results.
Authorities claim the internet shutdown is a necessary security measure.
Outbreak of violence
The election had been delayed due to an outbreak of violence in December. At least 890 people were killed during inter-communal clashes in four villages in western Democratic Republic of Congo over just three days last month, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
“It is crucial that this shocking violence be promptly, thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
The UN rights office said it had been informed by “credible sources” that at least 890 people were killed between December 16 and 18 in four villages in Yumbi territory, in Mai-Ndombe province, “in what appear to have been clashes between the Banunu and Batende communities”.
It said that at least 82 people were also reportedly injured in the attacks, but that the actual number of casualties was expected to be higher.
The violence appears to have been sparked when members of the Banunu tribe wanted to bury one of their traditional chiefs on Batende land.