Clergy in Congo Call for Peaceful Dialog in Wake of Fraudulent Election Claims

Clergy members in the Democratic Republic of Congo have protested the legitimacy of presidential election results, as leaders fear supporters of the opposition group could spark violence throughout the unstable country.

In Congo’s second democratic election in more than 50 years, the incumbent President Joseph Kabila, claimed 49 percent of the vote, beating out opposition leader, Ettiene Tshisekedi.

However, groups in Congo, as well as in other countries, believe the election was a fraud, according to reports.

Cardinal Laurent Monswego, a member of Congo’s influential clergy, said he was worried about the climate of the country after election results were released, according to ABCNews.

“It should be concluded that the results do not conform to truth nor justice,” Monswego said in an ABCNews report.

The Atlanta-based Carter Center, a human rights organization founded by former President Jimmy Carter, also questioned the credibility of the Nov. 28 election.

The organization stated that the vote was marred by technical shortcomings, although there was no evidence of fraud. They also stated that they observed evidence of technical shortcomings, vote inflations and vote suppressions.

The Congolese have also rejected the election results, sparking protests in the country.

Protesters plan to march on the electoral commission on Tuesday to demand the government recognize the authority of self-proclaimed elected President Tshisekedi.

Rubens Mikindo, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party in Goma, says supporters of Tshisekedi will be joined by Vital Kamarhe, who finished third in the election. Members of Kamarhe’s party, the Union for the Nation of Congo, along with other smaller parties will also join the protest, according to reports.

Mikindo said that protestors have been told to be peaceful and not to damage any property. He added that police and local authorities would be prepared for the protest.

However, opposition supporters in Goma, which still deals with conflict among rebel groups, militia and the government, doubt the protests will end without violence.

The rallies are expected to last throughout the week.

This election has had many flaws, including loss of ballots and “suspicious turnout figures”, according to reports.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 polling stations in the country experienced lost ballots, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

The Carter Center also found that in certain districts, the voting turnout was 100 percent, which was “impossibly high”. This was found in districts that are considered to be Kabila’s home territories. Support for Kabila in these territories was almost 100 percent, while around 50 to 60 percent for Tshisekedi.

Ballots were also transported by private means, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Ballot bags were even transported by candidates, opened and altered, which is a violation of official procedures.

The Carter Center suggested that security personnel could have influenced ballots and also blocked access for observers, including the National Results Center in Kinshasha. In one case, a compilation center in the capital was closed and when it re-opened a large number of ballots had gone missing, according to reports.

Monswego said there must be dialogue to avoid a grave crisis in the country.

He asked protestors to resort to legal means and not to engage in violence. Tshisekedi has asked his supporters to remain calm and wait for his instructions, while Kabila claims that there is no doubting the validity of the election.