KINSHASA – Outgoing president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Joseph Kabila has bid the Congolese people farewell, while praising the peaceful transfer of power.
He also urged the nation to back his successor, president-elect Felix Tshisekedi, who is scheduled to take his oath of office on Thursday.
Over the weekend, DR Congo’s Constitutional Court upheld Tshisekedi’s victory in last month’s polls, rejecting an appeal from another contender, Martin Fayulu, who claimed the vote was rigged.
“I urge you to massively support Tshisekedi, just as you did during my 18 years in charge of the country,” Kabila said in a televised speech late Wednesday.
“Tshisekedi can count on me whenever he wants and the interest of the country requires,” he added.
Tshisekedi is set to be sworn in as the country’s fifth president later in the day during a ceremony at the presidential palace in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.
This inauguration will mark the mineral-rich African country’s first democratic change of power since its independence from Belgium in 1960.
On Jan. 10, the Congolese electoral commission named Tshisekedi the winner of the elections, and announced that he won 7 million votes, as compared to Fayulu’s 6.3 million, and ruling coalition candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary’s 4.3 million.
Following the top court’s rejection of his appeal against the poll results, Fayulu declared himself the real winner and called for nationwide protests on Saturday.
Fayulu’s challenge was dismissed over a lack of evidence and confirmed opposition candidate Tshisekedi’s win in the presidential elections held on Dec. 30.
The polls, initially set for Dec. 23, were postponed last month by a week after a fire destroyed 80 percent of the voting machines due to be used in Kinshasa.
The presidential elections had already been delayed by two years since the expiry of Kabila’s term, but the electoral commission said it was unable to hold elections due to technical difficulties.
The electoral body has delayed elections in the eastern towns of Beni and Butembo, as well as Yumbi in the west until March 2019, due to an ongoing Ebola epidemic and insecurity caused by terrorism threats.