New uniform, old guard?

Author:Versi, Anver
Position::Around Africa: DR CONGO

Despite claims from several quarters that the DRC elections were fixed, it now seems that the surprise winner, Felix Tshisekedi is here to stay. Many see the hand of the outgoing President, Joseph Kabila in the results but what is his game and why are so many foreign powers upset with the outcome? Analyses by Anver Versi and Tom Collins.

It has taken almost 60 years for the DRC to finally manage what virtually every country in Africa achieved decades ago --the transfer of political power without resort to force of arms. So far, at the time of going to press, the situation has been peaceful but the atmosphere is charged.

According to the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), the winner of the 2019 Presidential election is Felix Tshisekedi, son of the late opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi. The outcome was challenged in the Constitutional Court, which found nothing amiss and confirmed the results.

The general election was won resoundingly by the former President Joseph Kabila's ruling party, the Common Front for Congo, with more than 350 seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is the head of government, from the winning party.

But a peaceful transfer through the ballot box is one thing maintaining peace after the transfer is quite another. Immediately the results were announced and according to some, even before that, the runner-up, Martin Fayulu, the former Exxon Mobil executive turned opposition leader, contested them--calling it an "electoral coup".

He claimed that Tshisekedi had brokered a backdoor deal with Kabila, and the outgoing President used his influence within CENI to pinch victory from Fayulu and hand it to his new partner.

Protesting against election results has become an almost necessary knee-jerk reaction following elections in Africa. Cases in point include the more recent polls in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Some observers put this down to the belief that a defeat in the polls is more palatable if the losing side believes the elections were 'stolen' than that the majority did not vote for their side. But that does not rule out chicanery during the polls from the stuffing of ballot boxes or later manipulation of the results.

Given the clear dangers of social anarchy that could and have followed disputed election results, wisdom advises caution before calling 'foul'.

However, in this case, the voices raised in protest at the results have been many. The first blow...

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