By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday cautioned the opposition against moves to disrupt public order in the country, insisting that it would take appropriate steps to maintain law and decorum.
This came after the simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections which the opposition said was rigged to favour the incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi.
Opposition leaders are calling for a re-run of disputed elections, even as the main observer mission reported “numerous irregularities” that could undermine some results.
Moise Katumbi, one of Tshisekedi’s main challengers says he is not considering approaching the court to seek redress, alleging that state institutions have been compromised to favour the government of the day, but the electoral management body, CENI has denied the allegation.
Katumbi and other opposition heavyweights have called for a re-run, but government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya says the opposition should wait until full results are published and challenge them in the courts if necessary.
He said the government was committed to a fair and transparent election process and dismissed Katumbi’s threat to hold further protests across the country.
“The contesting of results does not take place in the streets. And we as a government will take steps to ensure that public order is maintained,” Muyaya said.
The police had on Wednesday enforced a ban imposed by the government on demonstrations linked with the elections.
Preliminary results released so far from the Dec. 20 general elections show President Felix Tshisekedi taking a lead as opposition calls for total cancellation, citing widespread issues with the roll-out and tabulation of the vote.
In a new report, the independent joint vote-monitoring mission of Congo’s powerful Catholic Church and its Protestant Church said it had received 5,402 reports of incidents at polling stations, over 60% of which interrupted voting.
The CENCO-ECC mission “documented numerous irregularities likely to affect the integrity of the results,” it said.
In particular, it questioned the legality of the CENI election commission’s decision to extend some voting beyond Dec. 20 and reported that voting was not wrapped up fully until Dec. 27.
The CENI is due to release further provisional presidential results ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline. The latest showed Tshisekedi is well-ahead of his 18 challengers, with just over 76% of around 12.5 million votes counted so far.
The CENI has not yet said how many of Congo’s 44 million registered voters participated. It has so far processed the results of 46,422 polling stations out of 75,969, according to its latest tally.