Opposition leader wins election in Congo

The Congo is set to witness its first peaceful transfer of power in five decades. In a surprise turn of events the electoral commission has announced that opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi won the elections held at the end of December. But this announcement has raised questions because according to the Catholic Church's count the second opposition candidate Martin Fayulu had won. What will happen now?

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La Croix (FR) /

Don't give up on peace

Both the Episcopal Conference of the Congo and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian have voiced doubts about the election results. La Croix hopes the issue will be resolved peacefully:

“The Democratic Republic of Congo could face a turbulent period as a result of the election results being contested. That's the last thing this country - which has the potential to become enormously rich thanks to its mineral resources but has been bloodied by decades of wars, pillage and negligence - needs now. But one must not lose hope. The courageous popular press, in particular that of the Catholic clergy, has succeeded in forcing Joseph Kabila to step down. ... Voters have rejected his chosen successor. Now the true election result must come to light. Peacefully.”

De Standaard (BE) /

And the winner is ... Kabila

By contrast journalist and Africa expert Walter Zinzen voices disappointment in De Standaard:

“Tshisekedi will become a president without any real power. He has no majority in parliament. ... More importantly, he has no influence over the security services. The army, the three intelligence agencies, the police, the judiciary - all are full of Kabila supporters. Kabila remains their real leader. ... The same goes for the 22 provincial governors. ... Kabila has not given up yet. His financial interests are too great for that. ... The predatory lining of pockets is to continue. The fact that the resident of the presidential palace is no longer called Joseph Kabila won't make much difference in that respect.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

A peaceful change of government - for now

Despite all the inconsistencies the election is a historic step for the country, comments Rzeczpospolita:

“Three successive heads of state of the country formerly known as Zaire were toppled by a coup d'état, an armed insurrection, and by lethal shots fired by their own bodyguard. ... Now, after a series of bloody wars, the country is set to witness a normal change of government. ... Just a week ago, church officials expressed their surprise over why the results weren't being announced even though 'the winner is well known' (The vote took place on 30 December). But they didn't say who that winner is.”