France queries DR Congo election outcome

A Congolese citizen casting his ballot using an electronic voting machine

Their meeting came amid growing concern that unrest could erupt in DR Congo, following tightly contested presidential elections on 30 December. The centre monitored the elections and has since announced that its tally differs from the official results as released by the election commission.

But a second opposition rival, Martin Fayulu, is denouncing the result as an "electoral hold-up". He called on people to "rise as one man to protect victory".

The DRC's powerful Catholic church says results tallied by its own election observers do not match the official ones.

Just hours later, the Church said election results tallied by its 40,000 observers scattered across the country showed a different victor, without specifying who. Two diplomats also said that all major observation missions, including from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, showed similar results with Fayulu the victor.

France's foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, bluntly cast doubt on the official results.

Fayulu is backed by former Katanga governor Moise Katumbi, considered a traitor by Kabila, and ex-warlord and former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The other main opposition candidate, former oil executive Martin Fayulu - who was tipped as the favourite in the few pre-election opinion polls - also sounded a conciliatory tone on Tuesday.

The election commission issued its result before dawn Thursday, attributing 38.57 percent to Tshisekedi (the son of Congo's late opposition leader Etienne Tschisekedi), who previous year broke away from Fayula.

The delaying of the results announcement on the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) 30 December elections to March or April is likely, as incumbent President Joseph Kabila seeks to extend his administration and secure either his chosen successor's victory or a new political authority.

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Fayulu said the naming of Tshisekedi was the next in a line of stolen elections.

Known to his friends as "Fatshi", the portly 55-year-old is set to replace President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the volatile, poverty-stricken nation with an iron fist since 2001.

If confirmed, Mr Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the DR Congo gained independence in 1960.

The announcement of an opposition win was a shock as many had expected the results to be stacked in Shadary's favour, prompting heavy worldwide pressure on Kinshasa to respect the wishes of the electorate.

Many noted that Fayulu's campaign suffered significantly more harassment than Tshisekedi's, and that the latter's rhetoric towards erstwhile enemies underwent a dramatic change in recent days. In a last-minute decision, some 1 million of the country's 40 million voters were barred from participating, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola virus outbreak. As the electoral commission met this week, anti-riot police moved into place outside.

The government has cut internet service since the day after the election to prevent speculation on social media about who won, and blocked some radio stations.

Rich in minerals but mired in poverty, the country has suffered two major wars in the past 22 years, as well as bloodshed in elections in 2006 and 2011 that saw Kabila returned to office. "This is the beginning of national reconciliation".

In Mbandaka, capital of the northwestern province of Equateur, a Fayulu aide was arrested for calling on supporters to vandalise a vote collection centre and seize records of the ballot count, Mwanamputu said.

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