DR Congo government rules out election re-run demanded by opposition

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Democratic Republic of Congo will not cancel the results of last week’s presidential election despite repeated calls from the opposition for a full re-run of the disputed vote, government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya said on Thursday.

Results issued so far from the Dec. 20 poll show President Felix Tshisekedi with a commanding lead over his opponents. Mounting tensions over the election threaten to further destabilise Congo, which is already grappling with a security crisis in eastern areas. Congo is the world’s top producer of cobalt and other industrial minerals and metals.

Police forcibly broke up a banned march on Wednesday in the capital Kinshasa by people protesting against the way the presidential and legislative election was conducted. The opposition has said there were widespread irregularities and fraudThe CENI election commission denies this.

Muyaya said that the opposition should wait until full results are published and challenge them in the courts if necessary.

“Since they started the match, they should wait until the end of the match… That way they can see how to contest the results,” he told reporters.

The team of Moise Katumbi, one of Tshisekedi’s main challengers, has ruled out using legal channels to contest results, asserting that state institutions were committed to tipping the vote in the president’s favour and saying the election should be annulled. Other opposition parties have called for a re-run of the vote.

Muyaya said the government was committed to a fair and transparent election process and dismissed Katumbi’s threat to hold further protests across the country.

“The contesting of results does not take place in the streets. And we as a government will take steps to ensure that public order is maintained,” he said.

The CENI is due to release further provisional presidential results ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline. The latest showed Tshisekedi well-ahead of his 18 challengers, with more than 77% of around 9.3 million votes counted so far.

The opposition and independent observers question the legitimacy of these results, accusing the CENI of failing to follow correct procedure for the tabulation and publishing of results, in addition to the election day issues.

Symocel, a local observer mission, wrote a letter to the CENI on Dec. 26 to flag reports from several provinces of CENI agents mishandling sensitive election materials and conducting election operations outside official centres.

“The rate of this phenomenon … is so high and could irreversibly distort the results of the elections that your institution is gradually announcing,” it said.

Symocel’s coordinator Luc Lutala confirmed the letter’s authenticity on Wednesday and told Reuters “there are as many problems with the election’s roll-out as with the counting of the vote”.

The CENI did not immediately reply to a request for comment.