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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.”

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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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Taiwan President Announced Re- election after she Spoke Against China’s President Suggestion

Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president.

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taiwan, china, president
FILE - Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 5, 2019. VOA

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced her re-election bid this week following a bump in public polling that came after she spoke out against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s suggestion that Taiwan and China unify as one country.

She was polling at 24 percent after her party lost local elections in November. In January she was speaking out every few days against Xi’s idea and her approval ratings hit 34.5 percent by Jan. 21, according to a Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation survey.

On Wednesday, Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president. Inspired by her jump in approval ratings, Tsai will center at least the early part of her campaign over the coming year on raising public suspicion of China, political scientists say.

“Their campaign strategy is to speak of hating China, fearing China and refusing China,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the international affairs college at National Chengchi University. If officials reiterate these messages and they appear in the mass media, he said, “ultimately people will be affected by them.”

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the 1940s and insists that the two sides eventually unify. Most Taiwanese oppose that outcome.

 

taiwan, china, president
FILE- President of China Xi Jinping arrives for the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Nov. 17, 2018. VOA

Opportunity to talk about China

The Chinese president’s Jan. 2 speech urging Taiwan to accept unification gave Tsai an unexpected opening to warn citizens against ties with China, political experts say.

In his remarks, Xi urged Taiwan to merge with China under a “one country, two systems” model that his government applies now to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is ruled from Beijing, but local officials make some decisions.

China has claimed Taiwan since the Chinese Civil War, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost and rebased their government in Taiwan. Tsai took office in 2016. Since then she has irked China by refusing to negotiate on the condition that both sides belong to one China.

More than 70 percent of Taiwanese say in government surveys they prefer today’s self-rule, or full legal independence from China, over unification.

In one comment since the Chinese president’s speech, Tsai warned at an impromptu news conference Wednesday against any China-Taiwan peace agreement.

“China’s military ambitions and not giving up deployment of arms against Taiwan are making the region unstable,” she said. “As China doesn’t give up weapons aimed at Taiwan and emphasizes ‘one country, two systems,’ there’s no way to negotiate equally and there can’t be any real peace.”

Knack for China issues

Tsai, as former chairwoman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and a former government official in charge of Taiwan’s China policy, knows the issue particularly well, said Lin Chong-pin, a retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan.

“This is her forte,” Lin said. “She has been immersed in it for 18 long years.”

Since 2016, China has shown displeasure with Tsai by passing military aircraft and ships near Taiwan and persuading five foreign countries to switch allegiance from Taipei to Beijing. Taiwan has just 17 allies left.

“In international relations, what she can do is limited, we all know that, but in winning the public support in Taiwan, especially on controversial issues like ‘one country, two systems,’ she’s very, very capable,” Lin said.

Her party takes a guarded view of China compared to Taiwan’s main opposition camp, which advocates that the two sides talk on Beijing’s condition.

taiwan, china, president
FILE – Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je casts his ballot at a polling station, Nov. 24, 2018, in Taipei, Taiwan. VOA

Tough campaign

According to a survey released Thursday by Taiwan television network TVBS, Tsai would take 16 percent of the vote if the presidential race were held today and she ran against non-party aligned Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and Han Kuo-yu, opposition Nationalist Party mayor of the southern city Kaohsiung. The two mayors would get shares of more than 30 percent each, TVBS said.

taiwan, china, president
FILE – Nationalist Party’s Han Kuo-yu reacts after winning the mayoral election in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Nov. 24, 2018. VOA

Much of the public wants Tsai to stand up against China but also take stronger action on domestic economic problems, voters said in interviews in November. Among the domestic issues: low wages compared to other parts of Asia and rising costs, especially real estate.

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“She has already shown that she is against the ‘one family, two sides’ or ‘one country, two systems.’ That’s good,” said Shane Lee, political scientist with Chang Jung Christian University in Taiwan. “That will probably give her some points. But domestically there are many policies she will have to change.” (VOA)