Losing Congo Presidential Candidate Challenges Result in Court

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu filed an appeal at the Constitutional Court asking for a recount of last month’s presidential election.

Fayulu has claimed official results showing rival opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi won the Dec. 30 poll were rigged and has urged his supporters to protest against them. Fayulu topped an opinion poll before the vote, while an observer mission run by the country’s influential Catholic Church found he comfortably garnered the most votes, Western diplomats and government officials have said.

“We are asking the court to demand that CENI do a recount of the votes,” Fayulu said at the court in the capital, Kinshasa, on Saturday, referring to the electoral commission. “CENI has fabricated the results,” he said.

Fayulu said his legal team had filed the court papers on Friday and his appearance Saturday, was just a formality.

Congo is preparing for its first-ever transfer of power via the ballot box, bringing an end to President Joseph Kabila’s 18-year rule. The result, which the Constitutional Court has yet to validate, confounded expectations that Kabila’s protege, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, would win. Fayulu was the runner up, while Shadary came third, the electoral commission said.

The National Episcopal Conference of the Congo, the body representing the country’s Catholic bishops, said Thursday the electoral commission’s results “do not correspond to the data collected by our observation mission from polling and counting stations.” The organization deployed 40,000 observers to monitor voting.

Fayulu told supporters in Kinshasa on Friday that results collected by his coalition’s own compilation center show he won 61 percent of the vote. Electoral commission tallies show he garnered 35 percent, compared with 39 percent for Tshisekedi and 24 percent for Shadary.

The electoral commission and the government sharply criticized the Catholic organization for overstepping its responsibilities and risking causing an uprising.

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