Parties supporting outgoing Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila won a majority in long-delayed legislative elections, according to the tally of results released Saturday.
Pro-Kabila parties had passed the 250-seat threshold required to secure a majority in the 500-seat national assembly, according to collated results from the Independent National Election Commission (CENI).
More than 15,000 candidates were running in the poll, which determines who will control parliament for the next five years.
Pro-Kabila candidates had secured 288 of the 429 seats so far declared, with 141 going to the opposition.
The huge central African country, which straddles an area the size of western Europe, has been in the grip of a two-year political crisis triggered by Kabila’s refusal to step down when his two-term constitutional limit expired at the end of 2016.
A presidential election to choose a successor was delayed three times before finally taking place on December 30, the same day as the legislative poll.
The poll’s runner-up Martin Fayulu, an opposition candidate tipped by pollsters as the likely winner of the vote, told supporters on Friday he would demand a recount.
He said he would challenge Corneille Nangaa, head of the election commission “to produce the tally reports from polling stations in front of witnesses” and Congolese and international observers.
Provisional results released on Thursday gave Felix Tshisekedi, a rival opposition candidate, 38.57 percent of the vote, just ahead of Fayulu with 34.8 percent.
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the candidate backed by Kabila, came a distant third with 23.8 percent.
The declared result was a surprise to many observers of the mineral-rich but poverty-stricken country, which 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.
Pre-election opinion polls had flagged Fayulu as clear favourite while Kabila critics predicted an outcome rigged in favour of Shadary.
The powerful Roman Catholic church bluntly said CENI’s provisional result “does not correspond” with data that its 40,000 election monitors had collected at polling stations.
Fayulu’s bloc on Friday said he was the true victor, claiming he had garnered 61 percent of the vote.
Candidates have 48 hours after the result to file any appeal, and the Constitutional Court has a week in which to deliberate.
“We don’t expect the election to be annulled, but (a decision in favour of) a recount,” Fayulu said.