A regional bloc on Sunday called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to form a unity government in the wake of disputed elections while also urging a recount of the ballots.
The electoral commission CENI late last Wednesday announced to widespread surprise that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi had out-balloted Martin Fayulu, who had been seen as the clear frontrunner in the vote.
Tshisekedi was declared the victor with 38.57 percent, while Fayulu came second with 34.8 percent.
Many observers had feared that the chosen successor of outgoing President Joseph Kabila, Emmanuel Shadary, might win thanks to vote-rigging.
Fayulu immediately cried foul and appealed the result to the Constitutional Court, which has a week to rule on the demand.
On Sunday, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) urged "all political leaders to consider a negotiated political settlement for an all-inclusive government" in the sprawling central African country.
Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the 16-member SADC, said such a move would "enhance public confidence, build bridges and reinforce democratic institutions of government and electoral process for a better Congo".
Lungu has spoken to Tshisekedi and "other stakeholders within and outside of the DRC", the SADC said in a statement.
Noting "strong doubts" over the results voiced by the DRC\’s powerful Roman Catholic Church — which had deployed more than 40,000 poll monitors — as well as Fayulu\’s camp and other observers, SADC said it "feels a recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers".
A long-running political crisis erupted two years ago when Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional term in office, sparking massive protests which were brutally repressed.
The notoriously unstable country has not seen a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.