A sweeping victory for incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi in the December 20-21 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo seemed assured on Thursday evening, as partial results became increasingly consistent, officially giving him 76% of the vote.

Of the 12.5 million votes counted by the electoral commission (Céni), 60-year-old Félix Tshisekedi, who is seeking a second five-year term, obtained 9.5 million.

He was followed by businessman and former governor of Katanga (south-east) Moïse Katumbi (16.5%) and another opponent, Martin Fayulu (4.4%). The twenty or so other candidates on the ballot, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege, failed to reach 1%.

Nearly 44 million voters, out of a total population of around 100 million, were called to the polls. The Céni did not establish a turnout figure, but Congolese media had already calculated that the incumbent president could no longer be overtaken by his opponents, and ran the headline: “Félix Tshisekedi re-elected”.

However, no official statement was made on Thursday evening. The Céni’s long-established timetable calls for the publication of the full provisional results of the single-round presidential election on December 31. The Constitutional Court is due to have the final say in January.

“We will never accept this sham of an election and these results”, the fruit of “organized, planned fraud”, declared Martin Fayulu on Tuesday, when police had just prevented a rally from taking place. 

“We will never accept this sham of an election and these results”, the fruit of “organized, planned fraud”, declared Martin Fayulu on Tuesday, as police prevented a first post-election protest demonstration.

In addition to the presidential elections, legislative, provincial and local elections were held last week.

The quadruple ballot was scheduled for December 20. But due to numerous logistical problems, it was extended to the 21st by the Céni and continued for several days in some remote areas, until the 27th according to an observation mission from the Catholic and Protestant Churches, which published its preliminary report on Thursday.

– Irregularities” –

According to its own “parallel count”, this mission said it had observed that one candidate, whose name it did not specify, “largely stood out from the others, with more than half of the vote on his own”.

It added, however, that it had “documented numerous cases of irregularities likely to affect the integrity of the results of various ballots, in certain places”.

Since the beginning of the process, opponents have accused the government of planning fraud, and have called on their supporters to be “vigilant”. As early as December 20, they described the elections as “total chaos” and also denounced “irregularities”. 

Shortly afterwards, some fifteen embassies called for “restraint”.

Tensions are feared when the results are announced, in a country with a turbulent and often violent political history, whose subsoil is immensely rich in minerals but whose population is predominantly poor.

“We have taken all the necessary measures to ensure that peace reigns,” assured Interior Minister Peter Kazadi on Tuesday, announcing that the demonstration planned the following day by certain opponents had been banned.

He stressed that security had been stepped up, particularly in Lubumbashi (south-east), Moïse Katumbi’s stronghold, where elements of the army were deployed over the Christmas weekend.

“Chaos has not happened and will not happen,” said government spokesman Patrick Muyaya.

In addition to the tense political climate, the electoral campaign was poisoned by the security situation in the east of the DRC, which has seen a peak in tension over the past two years with the resurgence of the M23 rebellion, supported by neighboring Rwanda.

Some candidates were accused of being “foreigners”, a way of discrediting them in a country scarred by years of conflict.