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Congo’s President Challenges Election Result In High Court

The Democratic Republic of Congo has never experienced a peaceful transfer of power since winning independence from Belgium in 1960.

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Congo, Election
Defeated Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu greets supporters as he arrives at a rally in Kinshasha, Congo, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Congolese presidential candidate Martin Fayulu plans to demand a recount of election results that showed him losing to fellow opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

Speaking Friday by phone to Eddy Isango of VOA’s French to Africa service, Fayulu said he will go to the Constitutional Court on Saturday and ask judges to order the recount.

“We ask for a manual recount, polling station by polling station, before the CENI, before the African Union, before the United Nations, and in front of everyone else … so that everyone can see what the Congolese people achieved on December 30, 2018,” Fayulu said.

Congo, election
Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu speaks to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The commission said Thursday that Tshisekedi, the son of a longtime opposition leader, won the presidential election by more than 600,000 votes over Fayulu.

However, Fayulu’s campaign says it has tallies showing he won the election with 61 percent of the vote.

The Catholic Church and foreign diplomats have also questioned the outcome of the poll. The church said Thursday that the official figures do not correspond to vote tallies collected by its 40,000 election observers around the country.

UN Security Council discusses vote

VOA United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer reports the U.N. Security Council held a meeting in New York Friday to discuss the Congolese election.

Congo, election
Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The head of the election commission, Corneille Nangaa, told the council via satellite that Congo has two options: accept the results or nullify the election. He said if the vote is nullified, the country would not have a new president until new elections are organized.

Current President Joseph Kabila has already remained in office two years past the end of his mandate. He was set to step down this month after 18 years in power, once a new president was elected.

In the election, Kabila backed his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary, who finished a distant third. Supporters of Fayulu — a businessman backed by a coalition of opposition parties — have accused Kabila of making a deal with the electoral commission to deny their candidate the presidency, and in order to retain influence in the next administration.

Congo, elections
Corneille Nangaa, the president of the independent electoral commission (CENI), leaves a meeting with opposition candidates and African Union observers in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 2, 2019. VOA

The U.S. State Department said Thursday that it is important that President Kabila sticks to his decision to abide by term limits and transfer power to a successor. The statement from deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said the U.S. is awaiting “clarification of questions which have been raised regarding the electoral count.”

Also Read: Ebola-Recovered Woman Gives Birth To Healthy Child In Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has never experienced a peaceful transfer of power since winning independence from Belgium in 1960. (VOA)

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Congo: Volatile Security Situation Stymies Efforts to End Ebola

The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola cases has decreased and stabilized over the past few weeks.

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Congo, Security, Ebola
Patients waiting for prescriptions to be filled by the hospital pharmacy sit underneath a sign warning about the symptoms of Ebola, at Kibogora district hospital, near Lake Kivu and close to the border with Congo, in western Rwanda, Nov. 4, 2019. VOA

The World Health Organization says that dangers posed by armed groups in two eastern Democratic Republic of Congo provinces are impeding progress in the battle to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.  Latest reports put the number of confirmed Ebola cases at 3,287, including 2,193 deaths.

International health workers have achieved a lot since the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo was declared in August 2018. The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola cases has decreased and stabilized over the past few weeks.

While that is encouraging, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier says “we are not out of the woods yet.”

“The risk of re-introduction of Ebola into former hotspots remains high and is…contingent on the level of access and security in these communities,” Lindmeier siad. “So, the outbreak has been and is occurring in an extremely complex environment, marked by poor infrastructure, political instability, as you heard, community mistrust of national authorities and outsiders and ongoing conflict involving scores of armed…militia groups.”

Congo, Security, Ebola
International health workers have achieved a lot since the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo was declared in August 2018. Pixabay

Despite a recent decrease in the number of security incidents, attacks on health care workers and facilities remain unacceptably high.  From January to October, the WHO has documented more than 300 attacks, causing five deaths and 70 injuries of health care workers and patients.

And, last week, a health care worker was killed in his home and his wife critically injured.

The DRC has always been an area of high mobility. The armed conflict in the region has caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.   But people move around for other reasons as well. Lindmeier tells VOA among those on the move are infected people who could spread the virus.

“Because they were moving, we cannot be too optimistic about ending this soon,” Lindmeier siad. “As I said in the beginning, the weekly number of cases have stabilized over the past few weeks, but we are not, definitely not out of the woods yet and should not cry victory…before we are at the end of this.”

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The WHO notes Ebola hotspots have shifted from urban areas to more rural, hard-to-reach communities.  It says that, plus the extremely volatile security situation, creates additional challenges in hunting down the virus. (VOA)