On Wednesday, December 27th, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) witnessed a bold move by opposition candidates, who announced their intention to march in protest against the recent presidential election results, defying a recent government ban on protests. This act of defiance comes amidst allegations of electoral fraud and a tense political atmosphere in the nation.
Early results of the DRC’s presidential election showed incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi in a commanding lead. However, five opposition presidential candidates, including Martin Fayulu, one of Tshisekedi’s main challengers, have questioned the integrity of the vote. In a letter to the governor of Kinshasa, they expressed their resolve to organize a march, asserting their belief that the election was fraudulent.
Fayulu, speaking to Reuters, emphasized the opposition’s stance: “We are going to protest because we can’t accept another electoral coup d’état.” This statement came shortly after Interior Minister Peter Kazadi dismissed the legal basis of the march, urging the opposition to await the full results instead of protesting.
The DRC, Africa’s second-largest country, is no stranger to election-related unrest. This election cycle has been particularly fraught, marred by logistical issues such as delayed election kit deliveries, malfunctioning equipment, and disorganized voting registers. The election commission’s decision to extend voting at certain stations has sparked further controversy, with the opposition calling it unconstitutional and demanding a complete election rerun.
Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, a prominent figure in the DRC’s Catholic Church, described the election process as a “gigantic disorganized disorder,” echoing the concerns of some independent observers about the credibility of the extended voting period.
Despite these challenges, the election commission has continued releasing results. As of the latest update, President Tshisekedi leads his 18 challengers, with businessman Moise Katumbi and Fayulu trailing. However, the commission has yet to provide comprehensive voter turnout data or clarify the proportion of votes counted in relation to the total number of registered voters.
As the DRC grapples with this electoral turmoil, the unfolding events in Kinshasa and beyond will undoubtedly shape the country’s future, its role in African politics, and its position as a key global producer of vital minerals like cobalt and copper.