By Prince Kurupati
The Constitutional Court in Congo on Sunday ruled that Felix Tshisekedi rightly won the presidential election. Tshisekedi’s rival, Martin Fayulu had approached the Constitutional Court seeking an annulment of the presidential election results citing widespread irregularities, disenfranchisement and evidence of manipulation.
Congo’s election body had announced that Felix Tshisekedi narrowly beat Martin Fayulu in the presidential race hence he was declared the president-elect. However, immediately after the announcement, Martin Fayulu stated that the results were ‘fake’ and they had been manipulated. A few hours later, Fayulu approached the Constitutional Court asking the Court to nullify the results.
The major bone of contention for Fayulu was that the election commission had released fraudulent results and that it had illegally disqualified more than a million voters from casting ballots in regions stricken by the Ebola virus and ethnic conflict. According to the official results, Fayulu lost to Tshisekedi by fewer votes than those who were disenfranchised by that move, which affected areas likely to support Fayulu.
The Constitutional Court, however, dismissed Fayulu’s appeal and that of the other candidate thereby paving the way for the inauguration of Felix Tshisekedi as the successor to the longtime leader, Joseph Kabila. The decision by the Constitutional Court did not go down well with Fayulu who said it was “nothing more than a constitutional coup” whilst calling for a “peaceful protest.”
Following the Constitutional Court decisions, several African leaders started sending their congratulatory messages to Felix Tshisekedi.
First to send his message was HE Dr Hage G. Geingob, the President of Namibia as well as the current SADC Chair who in a statement said, “On behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and on my behalf as the Chairperson, we congratulate the President-elect of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mr. Felix Tshisekedi, following the national elections that were conducted on 30 December 2018 and the ruling of the Constitutional Court on 19 January 2019.” HE Dr Hage G. Geingob also called upon “all Congolese to accept the outcome, and consolidate democracy and maintain a peaceful and stable environment following the landmark elections.”
Zimbabwean President also sent his congratulatory message which read, “The Government and the People of Zimbabwe join me in conveying to you our most sincere congratulations following your victory in the presidential elections held in your country on December 30, 2018…Your election is a clear testimony of the trust and confidence the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo repose in your leadership. I look forward to working closely with you as we explore avenues of enhancing bilateral cooperation as well as improve the trade relations that exist between our two countries…At continental and multilateral levels, I affirm my commitment to working with you for the common good of both our peoples and the continent…I take this opportunity Dear Colleague to wish you personal good health and success as you discharge the onerous duties of the highest office in the country…Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
Other presidents who sent their congratulatory messages include the leaders of South Africa, Burundi, Kenya and Angola.