Jan. 21 (UPI) — The runner-up in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election, Martin Fayulu, rejected a court ruling upholding his defeat.
Fayulu, a leader of the opposition party, issued a statement declaring himself the president of the country despite the electoral commission ruling that fellow opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi won the Dec. 30 election.
“I am now considering myself as the sole legitimate President of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said. “As such, I ask the Congolese people not to recognize any individual who would claim this authority illegitimately nor to obey any orders that would emanate from such a person.”
Fayulu claims to have won more than 60 percent of the votes in the election, accusing Tshisekedi of conspiring with former President Joseph Kabila to influence the result “against the will of the Congolese people.”
“It is nothing more than a constitutional coup as (the court) installs a non-elected individual to the highest office,” Fayulu said.
Fayulu also called on the international community not to recognize the results of the election and encouraged the people of the DRC to “take its destiny in its hands by organizing peaceful demonstrations across the country.”
The African Union also expressed “serious doubts” about the results of the elections and said it would work on “a way out of the post-electoral crisis in the country” in a statement Thursday.
“The heads of state and government attending the meeting concluded that there were serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the verdict of the ballot boxes,” the statement said.
The country’s constitutional court has said that Fayulu failed to prove that the election commission had announced false results and declared Tshisekedi “president of the Democratic Republic of Congo by simple majority.”
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa both sent congratulations to Tshisekedi for winning the election.
Ramaphosa called on the people of the DRC and both political parties to “respect the decision of the constitutional court and commit to continue with a journey of consolidating peace.”
Tshisekedi is expected to be sworn in within 10 days.