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  • Felix Tshisekedi gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan.10, 2019.

    Felix Tshisekedi gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan.10, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 January 2019 (14 hours 17 minutes ago)

Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, was announced as winner of the Congolese presidential elections.

The declared winner of the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, will be sworn in as the fifth leader of the country, later this week, in Kinshasa.

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"The new president's oath is scheduled for this week, but the date has not yet been revealed. It can take place on Thursday or Friday," State Protocol official Lydie Omanga said.

This investiture ceremony will be the first peaceful power transfer in the DRC since 1960, when Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, the first president elected after the independence of Belgium, took the oath of office.

Tshisekedi, a former national deputy and son of the historic opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, won the elections on Dec. 30 with 38.57% of the votes, followed by Martin Fayulu with 34.86%. The result was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and upheld by the Constitutional Court on Jan. 19.

"The people first"

Both the elections and the official results have been branded as fraudulent by the Congolese Episcopal Conference and Fayulu, who called for a vote recount by ensuring that, according to his data, he would have amassed some 61% of the votes.

“With this decision, the Court showed... it is at the service of one individual of a dictatorial regime that doesn’t respect the laws nor the most elementary rules of democracy and moral,” Fayulu stated in a press release, calling  on the people “to take its destiny in its hands by organizing peaceful demonstrations... [because in conformity with the Constitution] any Congolese has the duty to bar any individual of group of individuals that take power by force or exercise it in violation of the dispositions of the current Constitution.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated Tshisekedi on Jan. 21 and "called on all parties and all stakeholders in the DRC to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court."

The presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi also congratulated Tshisekedi in a series of tweets, echoing the Southern African Development Community (SADC), an integration bloc which also calls for a peaceful power transition, backing off from earlier calls for a recount.

The Dec. 30 presidential elections put an end to two years of uncertainty in DR Congo, since outgoing President Joseph Kabila - who had been in power since 2001 - concluded his second and final term in office in Dec. 2016.

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