AU rejects calls for 'sterling' DRC polls to be anulled

African Union observers urged candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)‘s elections on Wednesday to accept the outcome of this week’s polls, saying they were well managed despite technical problems and violence.

Monday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, the second since the 2003 end of a civil war, were accompanied by outbreaks of violence in which at least eight people died, shortages of voting materials and confusion over voter lists.

Four presidential rivals to incumbent Joseph Kabila called for the vote to be annulled, alleging widespread fraud, a demand which the African observer missions rejected.

“We call on all political actors to show their responsibility by accepting the results,” AU observer mission chief Moctar Ouane said in a joint statement with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Great Lakes Region blocs.

Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula, South African prisons minister and head of the SADC mission, said the national election commission had done a “sterling job”.

“The Congolese have demonstrated their gains from 2006,” she said, referring to the first post-war election organised largely under the auspices of the United Nations.

Preliminary results are due on December 6.

Kabila’s move this year to sign off on constitutional changes making the vote a single-round election was widely seen as giving him the edge against a split field of 10 rivals. It means that a simple majority is needed for victory.

However, the camp of his chief challenger, Etienne Tshisekedi, have said early indications from polling stations suggest he is in the lead, and Tshisekedi conspicuously failed to join the call of other candidates for an annulment.

The complaints of fraud have led to concerns that Congo could see a post-election dispute like Côte d’Ivoire, which this year descended into four months of conflict when incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat.

In a move that will not go unnoticed in Kinshasa, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Gbagbo and transferred him to The Hague on Wednesday to face charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged part in a conflict which claimed at least 3 000 lives.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo warned Congolese politicians this month they must avoid electoral violence or risk facing justice at the court.—Reuters


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