KINSHASA – Congo’s opposition leader said on Thursday that, as president, he would represent all Congolese people after the electoral commission named him the provisional winner of elections held last month.
According to the commission, Tshisekedi won 7 million votes compared to ruling coalition candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary’s 4.3 million and fellow opposition leader Martin Fayulu’s 6.3 million.
“I will not be the president of a political party or of the Luba tribe. I will be the president of all the Congolese people,” Tshisekedi told supporters in Kinshasa’s Limete neighborhood, a Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP) stronghold.
Voter turnout was 47.56 percent of the country’s 18 million registered voters.
Tshisekedi also paid his respects to incumbent President Joseph Kabila, whom he no longer considers “an opponent, but rather a partner in the democratic handover in our country.”
In mid-November, the 55-year-old son of former prime minister Etienne Tshisekedi broke away from opposition bloc Lamuka (Wake up), led by Fayulu, to form his own coalition.
Candidates have three days to appeal the outcome, with official results expected to be announced towards the end of next week.
Last month, the polls, initially set for Dec. 23, were postponed by a week after a fire destroyed 80 percent of the voting machines due to be used in Kinshasa.
The presidential elections had already been delayed for two years since Kabila’s term expired, but the electoral commision said it was unable to hold elections due to technical difficulties.
The electoral body has delayed elections in the eastern towns of Beni and Butembo, as well as Yumbi in the west until March 2019, due to an ongoing Ebola epidemic and insecurity caused by terrorism threats.