The Southern African Development Community urged DR Congo to recount votes amid charges of vote rigging by the opposition.
The 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 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 the 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 from that 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 has killed millions since the 1990s.
According to the data of Lamuka, an electoral coalition ally, Fayulu obtained 61% of the votes against 18% of Felix Tshisekedi, who stands as the winner of the polls since Jan.10 according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).
“A recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers,” SADC said in a statement.
The 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 appears slim for now. Fayulu, who is backed by bitter political rivals of Kabila, Saturday filed a formal election complaint with the Constitutional Court.
The international community, however, welcomed the election results with caution. The European Union (EU) has requested that CENI publish the minutes of each polling station in order to dispel discrepancies.
"At this critical moment for the country's democratic transition, it is essential that all political actors refrain from resorting to violence," Maja Kocijancic, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, urged.