The Congolese president has vowed that elections this month in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation will likely be “transparent and democratic” within the face of fears a couple of new spherical of vote-rigging to safe his second time period.
“The elections are free,” Félix Tshisekedi informed the Financial Times in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, insisting that speak of corruption across the December 20 vote was “noise from the opposition that the international community wants to hear”.
“There’s always these prejudices about our countries — people always think that in Africa there’s cheating,” he stated in an interview. “When it happens in America or in France, we hear excuses and ‘No, it’s all good, it’s fine’. But when it’s Africa, it’s ‘Oh yes, it’s always like that’.”
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However, election rivals have solid doubt on the method, whereas Brussels has cancelled its observer mission as a consequence of “technical constraints beyond the control of the EU”, with European diplomats saying the DRC hampered permissions for election screens to make use of satellite tv for pc communications gear.
The DRC, residence to greater than 100mn individuals, has monumental mineral wealth corresponding to cobalt, a crucial part in battery know-how, but it stays one of many world’s most under-developed international locations, and one racked by poverty and violence.
Tshisekedi — whose father Étienne turned a number one opposition determine after serving as prime minister below the kleptocratic ruler Mobutu Sese Seko when the nation was referred to as Zaire — took workplace after it was introduced he had received the 2018 presidential election.
But not solely did the opposition query the outcome, however the highly effective Catholic Church stated the official tally didn’t correspond with the information from its tens of hundreds of observers. An FT evaluation of two separate collections of voter knowledge confirmed that his opponent Martin Fayulu was the winner.
Tshisekedi has at all times denied the election fraud and is searching for a second time period on the helm of a multi-party Sacred Union coalition comprised of greater than 200 events.
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“We want a great victory, a convincing victory” this time, Tshisekedi stated throughout a late-night break from campaigning, with one eye on a televised soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain, his favorite workforce, and Monaco.
Tshisekedi’s major election rivals — Moïse Katumbi, a former governor of the copper-rich Katanga area and proprietor of the nation’s most profitable soccer workforce, and Fayulu, a Paris-educated former ExxonMobil government who calls himself “president-elect” — each solid doubt on the electoral course of in separate FT interviews.
Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasa, was equally sceptical, saying the church had “no certainty that the elections will be free, inclusive, transparent and peaceful”.
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Tshisekedi shrugged off the claims. “Every time, the opposition cries ‘thief!’, but . . . they’ve all came to compete [in the election]. If there was no chance for them to win, they wouldn’t have come. They came because they think there’s a chance.”
A selected allegation issues irregularities within the voters’ registry that might play in favour of Tshisekedi, one thing the electoral fee has denied. There can be mistrust within the system for transmitting the outcomes.
The US authorities final month referred to as for a good election and stated it will contemplate imposing visa restrictions “against those undermining democracy” within the DRC within the occasion of election-rigging, corruption or voter intimidation.
Trésor Kibangula, an analyst with Ebuteli Congolese Research Institute of Politics, Governance and Violence in Kinshasa, stated it was laborious to think about a Congolese presidential election with out dishonest.
“We’re really in an electoral process which is sorely lacking in confidence and everyone’s wary. The stage is set for us to, once again, go into an electoral contestation,” he stated.
Yet others stated that Tshisekedi — whose marketing campaign slogan Bomoko, Bokengi, Bofuluki within the Lingala language interprets as “unity, security, prosperity” — had an opportunity to kind of legitimately win essentially the most votes.
Not solely does he have the visibility of 5 years in energy and the backing of the state equipment, however the opposition is break up between three major candidates. The third is Denis Mukwege, a Nobel peace laureate and gynaecological surgeon who has spent a lot of his life serving to victims of sexual violence in war-ravaged japanese Congo, the place greater than 100 insurgent teams vie for management of assets.
A senior overseas official stated it was “possible for Tshisekedi to win if the opposition continues to be divided”, and that “there may be no need to tamper with the results”.
Tshisekedi can be prone to be boosted by the preliminary rollout of a $1.6bn plan to construct roads, faculties and hospitals, in addition to the introduction of free training and healthcare for some Congolese.
“The last time, I wasn’t very optimistic,” he stated of how his possibilities have improved from 5 years in the past. “No more. Because we have a track record that has convinced people, and I think people want to see more.”
And if he loses? “If it goes to someone else and I’ve really lost legitimately . . . [then] it’s democracy and we have to accept defeat.”