Congo rules out election re-run as observers flag irregularities

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Opposition supporters prepare to demonstrate, while riot police officers amass around Congolese opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu's headquarters to block a protest by the opposition who are calling for a re-run of last week's national election, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo December 27, 2023. REUTERS/Benoit Nyemba

By Ange Adihe Kasongo Reuters

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday refused opposition calls for a re-run of disputed elections, as the main observer mission reported “numerous irregularities” that could undermine some results.

Provisional results issued so far from the Dec. 20 general election show President Felix Tshisekedi with a commanding lead, but his opponents have demanded they be annulled, citing widespread issues with the roll-out and tabulation of the vote.

The dispute threatens 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.

In a new report on the presidential and legislative elections based on feedback from thousands of observers, the independent joint vote-monitoring mission of Congo’s powerful Catholic Church and its Protestant Church said it had received 5,402 reports of incidents at polling stations, over 60% of which interrupted voting.

The CENCO-ECC mission “documented numerous irregularities likely to affect the integrity of the results,” it said.

In particular, it questioned the legality of the CENI election commission’s decision to extend some voting beyond Dec. 20 and reported that voting was not wrapped up fully until Dec. 27.

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. The CENI denies this.

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