KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo’s presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu has asked the constitutional court to order a recount in the disputed election, declaring on Saturday that “you can’t manufacture results behind closed doors.”

He could be risking more than the court’s refusal. Congo’s electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa has said there are only two options: The official results are accepted or the vote is annulled — which would keep President Joseph Kabila in power until another election. The Dec. 30 one came after two years of delays.

“They call me the people’s soldier ... and I will not let the people down,” Fayulu said. Evidence from witnesses at polling stations across the country is being submitted to the court, which is full of Kabila appointees.

Rifle-carrying members of Kabila’s Republican Guard deployed outside Fayulu’s home and the court earlier Saturday. It was an attempt to stop him from filing, Fayulu said while posting a video of them on Twitter: “The fear remains in their camp.”

Fayulu has accused the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, of a backroom deal with Kabila to win power in the mineral-rich nation as the ruling party candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, did poorly.

The opposition coalition for Fayulu, a businessman vocal about cleaning up widespread corruption, has said he won 61 percent of the vote, citing figures compiled by the Catholic Church’s 40,000 election observers across the vast Central African country.

Those figures show Tshieskedi received 18 percent, the coalition said.

The church, the rare authority that many Congolese find trustworthy, has urged the electoral commission to release its detailed vote results for public scrutiny. The commission has said Tshisekedi won with 38 percent while Fayulu received 34 percent.

Earlier on Saturday, the commission announced that Kabila’s ruling coalition had won an absolute majority of national assembly seats. That majority, which will choose the prime minister and form the next government, sharply reduces the chances of dramatic reforms under Tshisekedi.

Congolese now face the extraordinary situation of a presidential vote allegedly rigged in favor of the opposition. “This is more than an electoral farce; it’s a tragedy,” the LUCHA activist group tweeted, noting a ruling party majority in provincial elections as well.

This could be Congo’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960, but observers have warned that a court challenge could lead to violence.

During the turbulent years of election delays, many Congolese worried that Kabila, in power since his father was assassinated in 2001, was seeking a way to stay in office to protect his sprawling assets.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.