Initial results show President Félix Tshisekedi has won a second five-year term in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the election commission of the mineral-rich nation said on Sunday, despite a storm of protest from top opposition candidates following a chaotic vote and criticism from domestic and international observers.
Many polling stations failed to open on the day of the Dec. 20 vote because they did not receive materials for the election on time, so they opened for an unscheduled, impromptu second day of voting. Five of Tshisekedi’s opponents — including his top challenger — have said the extension was illegal and the vote should be canceled and rerun.
Observation missions cited “numerous irregularities” with both the rollout and the tally of votes for presidential, parliamentary and regional assemblies, but they stopped short of saying that the election interference had changed the result of the presidential vote. According to the country’s election commission, voter turnout was 43 percent.
Congo is Africa’s fourth most populous country and a top global producer of copper and cobalt — two metals vital for the global green energy transition — along with gold and other minerals. But corruption has crippled its economy and it is among the world’s five poorest nations; nearly two-thirds of its 100 million people live on less than $2.15 a day. A plethora of rebel groups have terrorized civilians and plundered mines in eastern Congo, fueling a regional security and humanitarian crisis. Nearly 7 million people have fled their homes in the east in recent decades — the largest recorded exodus in Congo’s history — and around a quarter of Congo’s population need food aid, according to the World Food Program.
Sunday’s results showed Tshisekedi with 73 percent of the vote, with millionaire mining mogul Moise Katumbi in second place with 18 percent and former energy executive Martin Fayulu — widely viewed as the legitimate winner of the last election — a distant third with 5 percent. Nobel Peace laureate Denis Mukwege, whose hospital treats women raped and brutalized in the conflict, received a tiny sliver of votes.