Democratic Republic of Congo should recount the votes of its contested presidential election that the runner-up says was rigged, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Sunday.
The Dec. 30 poll was supposed to mark Congo’s first uncontested democratic transfer of power in 59 years of restive independence and the beginning of a new era following 18 years of chaotic rule by President Joseph Kabila.
But runner-up Martin Fayulu claims that he in fact won by a landslide and that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with Kabila to be declared victor. Tshisekedi and Kabila deny this.
Congo’s Catholic Church has said that tallies compiled by its 40,000-strong monitoring team show a different winner to those announced by the electoral commission, without saying who.
Isolated post-election violence across the massive, mineral-rich country of 80 million people has many fearing a return to the kind of civil-war unrest that have killed millions since the 1990s.
“A recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers,” SADC said in a statement.
SADC, which includes old Kabila allies Angola and South Africa, recommended a government of national unity including parties representing Kabila, Fayulu and Tshisekedi that could promote peace.
“SADC draws the attention of Congolese politicians to similar arrangements that were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya” that created the “necessary stability for durable peace,” the statement said.
The chance of this kind of unity in Congo appear slim for now. Fayulu, who is backed by bitter political rivals of Kabila, on Saturday filed a formal election complaint with the Constitutional Court.