Two more Congo presidential candidates do not plan court challenge

(Reuters) – Two more candidates who contested last month’s presidential election in Democratic Republic of Congo made clear on Tuesday they will not take the matter to court, making it more likely President Felix Tshisekedi’s provisional win will be confirmed.

Congo’s election commission said on Sunday that Tshisekedi had secured more than 73% of the vote in the Dec. 20 election, versus roughly 18% for his nearest challenger, businessman Moise Katumbi.

A large group of opposition candidates says the election was fraudulent and has urged people to protest. However, the government has rejected calls for a rerun of the vote and the deadline to challenge the outcome of the presidential election expires on Wednesday.

Former energy executive Martin Fayulu, who stood in the election, told Reuters he would not file a legal challenge because he did not trust the Constitutional Court, which would rule on it.

“Knowing how Felix Tshisekedi appointed the members of this court on 17 July 2020, we can expect nothing from it,” Fayulu told Reuters.

The chief of staff of another of Tshisekedi’s challengers in the election, Nobel Peace Prize-winning gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, said Mukwege would also not take his case to the Constitutional Court, likening the current political climate to a caricature.

“What appeal could (Mukwege) file in such a burlesque political context?” said the chief of staff, Vital Barholere. “We are first working to consolidate the common front of the opposition and civil society.”

A month before the election, Fayulu, Mukwege and other opposition leaders lodged a case before the Constitutional Court seeking to compel the election commission to address potential irregularities and fraud, but the case failed.

Before the release of the provisional results on Sunday, Katumbi had ruled out a legal challenge, alleging state institutions were not independent.

Katumbi’s spokesperson Herve Diakiese confirmed that position had not changed.

The Constitutional Court would have seven days to rule on any case brought before it challenging the election outcome, and proclaim the final result.

The U.S. embassy in Kinshasa has said those who dispute the result should avoid a violent confrontation and use the legal system.

“We call on the relevant authorities to investigate in a fair and transparent manner all the concerns raised regarding non-compliance with electoral code procedures and allegations of fraud,” the embassy added in a post on social media platform X.

(Reporting by Sonia Rolley; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Alexander Winning and Susan Fenton)