Dark horse candidate wins Congo election amid accusations of fraud

Dark horse candidate wins Congo election amid accusations of fraud

Supporters of surprise Congo presidential winner Felix Tshisekedi celebrated in the capital on Thursday, while rival opposition candidate Martin Fayul

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Supporters of surprise Congo presidential winner Felix Tshisekedi celebrated in the capital on Thursday, while rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu denounced the result as fraud after the long-delayed election marred by irregularities.“Today I am happy,” Tshisekedi told supporters. “Happy for the people of Congo. Everyone is celebrating that there is peace. No one could imagine the scenario where an opposition candidate could be victorious!”

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, shows his ballot as he votes in the general elections in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 30 December 2018.

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, shows his ballot as he votes in the general elections in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 30 December 2018.EPA/STEFAN KLEINOWITZ
Story continues belowFayulu alleged the results had been rigged, saying outgoing President Joseph Kabila made a backroom deal with Tshisekedi. Kabila appears to have negotiated with Tshisekedi to prevent anti-corruption crusader Fayulu from winning, diplomats and observers said.Now Congo and the world face the uncomfortable choice of accepting what could be the country’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power or raising a protest that could lead to more violence in the long-turbulent nation.READ MORE: At least 7 UN peacekeepers killed in clash in Democratic Republic of CongoMany were waiting for a statement from the powerful Catholic church, which has said its 40,000 observers in all polling stations found a clear winner.Several diplomats briefed on the matter told The Associated Press that the church’s figures showed that Fayulu won a landslide majority. Two diplomats also said all major observation missions, including those of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, showed similar results. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

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

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu speaks to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa, Congo, Thursday Jan. 10, 2019.AP Photo/Jerome DelayTshisekedi, who received 38 per cent of the vote according to the electoral commission’s results, had not been widely considered the leading candidate and is relatively untested. Long in the shadow of his father, the late opposition leader Etienne, Tshisekedi startled Congo last year by breaking away from the unified opposition candidate, Fayulu, to stand on his own.WATCH BELOW: Candidates vote in Congo election

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