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Tshisekedi set for second term despite protests against 'sham' elections

The opposition has rejected the results after chaos at the ballot box and official results contradicted the pre-poll surveys

Félix Tshisekedi appears almost certain to be confirmed for a second term as President despite opposition protests about the conducting of the polls, which saw Tshisekedi obtain 73% of the vote, according to the Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante, ahead of business mogul-turned-politician Moïse Katumbi with 18% and Martin Fayulu with 5%, on a turnout of more than 40% (AC Vol 64 No 20, Oppositionists vie for the presidency). However, those numbers are widely at odds with independent opinion surveys suggesting that Tshisekedi would take 49.3% of the vote and Katumbi 28.1%.

Katumbi and Fayulu rejected what they described as 'a sham election… and its results' in a joint declaration.

'We call on our people to take to the streets en masse after the proclamation of the electoral fraud,' they added.

Opposition candidates contesting the results have two days to submit their claims, and the constitutional court has until 10 January to decide on the results. However, Katumbi has indicated that he will not make a formal challenge, stating that the court is not politically independent.

A backdrop of chaos casts doubt on the integrity of the polls, which were boycotted by most international election observer teams despite the estimated US$1.2 billion spent on organising the logistics and registering over 44 million voters (Dispatches, 20/12/23, Tshisekedi favoured to retain Presidency in $1.2 billion elections).

Observers reported that many polling stations either opened late or did not open at all. Materials were sometimes lacking, and many voter cards were rendered illegible due to smudged ink.

Voting was extended to a second day, something local observers and civil society organisations have deemed illegal, and parts of the country were still casting ballots five days after the official election day on 20 December.

While Tshisekedi has received congratulations from regional leaders including Kenya's William Ruto, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania's Samia Suluhu Hassan, there has been silence from the United States and Europe so far.

The US State Department is following the process 'closely' and urged that election disputes be resolved 'peacefully', a spokesperson said on 31 December.

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