Martin Fayulu

Defeated Democratic Republic of Congo presidential candidate Martin Fayulu said on Friday he would challenge the election results in the country’s highest court on Saturday at 9am (0800 GMT).

The national electoral commission on Thursday declared another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, the winner of the December 30 election.

However, Fayulu’s campaign said its tallies showed that Fayulu won a landslide victory.

Fayulu supporters said out-going President Joseph Kabila made a deal with Tshisekedi after Kabila’s own hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, failed to gain enough support to be a credible winner.

Shadary conceded, following the announcement of the results.

Kabila has ruled since the 2001 assassination of his father Laurent Kabila, whose victory in a 1996-1997 civil war ended more than three decades of rule by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Kabila has said he wants to stay in politics and may run again in 2023, when he will no longer be barred by term limits.

Tshisekedi inherited the leadership of his UDPS party when his father Etienne Tshisekedi died in 2017.

But he lacks the experience, political clout and firebrand reputation his father earned as a leading opposition figure since the Mobutu era.

An official from the from UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations said Tshisekedi’s win might buy some temporary calm but that “the exiled and cheated will rebel,” referring to ex-militia and political leaders who are backing Fayulu.

“Tshisekedi has no capacity to rule, no way of controlling the army or ministerial appointments. He will do as told, gun to his head,” the official said.

In the run-up to the results, Tshisekedi said Kabila had nothing to fear should he come to power. Fayulu, by contrast, is backed by ex-rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba and former governor Moise Katumbi, two of Kabila’s fiercest rivals.

Any escalation from the Fayulu camp risks igniting Congo’s cycle of unrest, particularly in the eastern borderlands where he enjoys strong support and where dozens of militia groups operate.

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