Congo top court declares Tshisekedi winner of presidential poll

by Reuters
Sunday, 20 January 2019 00:31 GMT

(Adds background on election and Congo political history, comments from government spokesman, paragraphs 3-7)

KINSHASA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Congo's constitutional court confirmed Felix Tshisekedi's presidential election win on Sunday, dismissing a challenge from another opposition leader who had accused him and the ruling party of stitching up the result.

Second-placed Martin Fayulu had rejected the provisional tally for Democratic Republic of Congo's election released last week, saying it was the product of a secret deal between Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila to cheat him out of a clear win of more than 60 percent.

Kabila and Tshisekedi's camps denied making any deal.

The provisional results in the poll, which was meant to enable Congo's first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence from Belgium, showed Tshisekedi winning with a slim margin over Fayulu. Kabila's favoured candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary came in a distant third.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said by telephone that the ruling party had "taken note" of the court decision.

"Felix Tshisekedi will become the fifth president of the republic," Mende said.

The ruling was unlikely to silence critics. Congo's constitutional court is widely seen as beholden to Kabila, who has been in power since his father was assassinated in 2001. It may also worsen the sporadic unrest that has already seen 34 people killed, 59 wounded and 241 "arbitrary arrests" in the past week, according to the U.N. human rights office. (Reporting by Stanys Bujakera and Giulia Paravicini; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Daniel Wallis and David Gregorio)

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