DRC Catholic Church says vote result does not reflect polling station data
Democratic Republic of Congo's powerful Catholic Church said the provisional result of December's presidential election, naming opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi as winner, does not reflect the data its observers collected from polling stations.
"We see that the result of the presidential election as published by CENI, the electoral commission, does not correspond with the data collected by our observer mission from polling stations and counting centres," said Father Donatien Nshole, spokesperson for CENCO, which represents the country's Catholic bishops. Last week CENCO, which deployed more than 40 000 observers to monitor the elections, said it knew who had won the vote but did not reveal who it was, instead urging CENI to publish the results "in keeping with truth and justice".
France's top diplomat and analysts said Thursday that the Church's count indicated Tshisekedi's opposition rival Martin Fayulu, who came a close second, had actually won. Nshole's remarks were made a press conference during which he also remarked on the historic change brought about by the election. "We take note of the publication of the provisional results of the presidential election which, for the first time in the history of our country, opens the way for a political changeover at the head of state," he said.
The Catholic Church has long been pressing for the departure of President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 2001, and who has stayed in power as caretaker leader even though his second and final elected term ended in December 2016.