Congo: Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi wins presidential vote

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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday has called for explanations on the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election results, saying the surprise victory of Felix Tshisekedi did not reflect what they saw on the ground.

The commission declared opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, the official victor early on Thursday in what could lead to Congo's first democratic transfer of power. Last week the bishops said their observations showed a clear victor - although they did not name Martin Fayulu, the other opposition frontrunner - as that candidate.

The powerful religious institution deployed 40,000 election observers and is considered one of Congo's most influential and trusted institutions.

President Joseph Kabila is due to step down after 18 years in office.

On the other, Tshisekedi is vulnerable to a legal challenge over the validity of his Belgian diploma, which is alleged to be fake - holding a diploma is a requirement for anyone running as a presidential candidate in DR Congo.

But pre-election studies had predicted an easy win for Martin Fayulu, another opposition candidate.

Tshisekedi's margin over Fayulu was less than 700,000 votes, according to the official results.

The church refused to name its "clear victor, " but diplomats briefed on its findings said opposition leader Martin Fayulu won easily and that other election observers showed similar results.

Fayulu claimed that election officials helped Tshisekedi to win as part of a deal to protect members of the outgoing Kabila administration. She added, will the African Union "consider a power transfer "enough" or will they push for investigation and real result?"

Further pressure on CENI to reveal the election outcome came on Wednesday from South Africa and Zambia, DRC's neighbour to the south. The United States threatened sanctions against officials who rigged the vote.

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If the Constitutional Court validates the result, it'll mark the first transfer of power by the ballot box since Congo gained independence from Belgium almost six decades ago.

Many noted that Fayulu's campaign suffered significantly more harassment than Tshisekedi's, and that the latter's rhetoric towards erstwhile enemies underwent a dramatic change in recent days.

Police installed metal barriers and blocked traffic outside the electoral commission as it continued meetings that began late Tuesday.

Defiantly, tens of thousands of voters in one of the barred communities held their own unofficial ballot on election day, and Fayulu won easily.

"Nobody knows how he would be able to cope with the position of president", Patta said of Tshisekedi.

Congo's government cut internet service the day after the vote to prevent speculation on social media. "(.) The Congolese people will never accept that his victory be stolen".

Felix Tshisekedi was declared the victor of the country's long-delayed elections.

Now Congo faces a new leader who is little known after spending many years in Belgium and standing behind his outspoken father.

"The electoral victory of opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi is highly surprising, but the decision makes sense in the context of DRC's political dynamics", said Robert Besseling of EXX Intelligence, a risk consultancy on Africa. "Those of us who have followed this very closely have all been told that there were conversations behind the scenes between Tshisekedi and Kabila".

The few opinion polls that had been conducted in the vast country ahead of the election had Fayulu, a former oil executive backed by two political heavyweights, as clear favourite.

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