"DRC Election: Catholic and Protestant Churches Demand Inquiry Before Accepting Results"

KINSHASA—The Democratic Republic of Congo’s influential Catholic bishops conference and Protestant churches demanded an independent inquiry into irregularities and alleged legal violations during the December general elections.

Congo’s CENI election commission announced on Sunday that President Felix Tshisekedi had secured over 73% of the vote on December 20. However, a significant number of opposition candidates claim the election was fraudulent and reject the provisional results.

Numerous issues, including hours-long delays, malfunctioning machines, and other problems, led to an unplanned extension of voting beyond December 20, which independent observers believe affected the election’s credibility.

In a joint statement, the CENCO-ECC Catholic and Protestant churches, whose thousands of independent observers flagged widespread issues on and after election day, called on the CENI to allow an investigation.

“We ask the CENI to clarify all the cases documented by various stakeholders. An independent and joint commission of inquiry is necessary,” the statement said.

The statement emphasized that the results of the presidential and legislative vote would only be acceptable if an inquiry was conducted.

Despite the unscheduled extension of voting and other issues, both the CENI and the government maintain that the poll was free and fair.

The dispute poses a threat to Congo’s stability, a leading cobalt and copper producer whose development has been hindered by decades of conflict in eastern regions.

Tshisekedi’s main challengers, including businessman Moise Katumbi and former oil executive Martin Fayulu, have ruled out filing a legal challenge, citing a lack of confidence in the independence of the courts, and have urged supporters to protest.

The constitutional court has confirmed receiving two formal appeals against the provisional presidential results, including one from opposition presidential candidate Theodore Ngoyi. It must review the appeals before the January 12 deadline to announce the final presidential results.

The CENCO-ECC statement urged the court to consider any allegations related to reported election irregularities and ensure that justice is served.

Following Tshisekedi’s provisional victory announcement, the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa also called on Congolese authorities to investigate all concerns about non-compliance with electoral code procedures and fraud allegations.

Piers Potter


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