DR Congo presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu has asked the constitutional court to order a recount in the country’s disputed election, declaring: “You can’t manufacture results behind closed doors.”
Mr Fayulu has alleged a backroom deal between the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, and President Joseph Kabila.
Mr Fayulu’s coalition asserts he won 61% of the vote according to the Catholic Church’s 40,000 election observers across the country.
DR Congo’s electoral commission says he received 34% and Mr Tshisekedi 38%.
But Mr Fayulu could be risking more than a court refusal – electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa has said there are only two options, to accept the result or to have the vote annulled.
The latter would keep Mr Kabila in power until another election.
Mr Fayulu said: “They call me the people’s soldier… and I will not let the people down.”
The court filing includes evidence from witnesses at polling stations across the country, he said.
Rifle-carrying members of Mr Kabila’s Republican Guard deployed outside Mr Fayulu’s home and the court earlier on Saturday.
It was an attempt to stop him from filing his claim, Mr Fayulu said.
Earlier on Saturday, the commission announced Mr Kabila’s ruling coalition had won an absolute majority of national assembly seats. That majority, which will choose the prime minister and form the next government, sharply reduces the chances of dramatic reforms under Mr Tshisekedi.
Congolese now face the extraordinary situation of a presidential vote allegedly rigged in favour of the opposition. “This is more than an electoral farce; it’s a tragedy,” the LUCHA activist group tweeted, noting a ruling party majority in provincial elections as well.
This could be Congo’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960, but observers have warned a court challenge could lead to violence.
The December 30 election came after more than two turbulent years of delays as many Congolese worried that Mr Kabila, in power since his father was assassinated in 2001, sought a way to stay in office to protect his sprawling assets.
“Even if Tshisekedi’s presidency survives these court challenges, he will be compromised beyond repair and reliant on Kabila, whose patronage network controls most of the country’s levers of power, including the security forces,” professor Pierre Engelbert of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Centre, said.
Statements on the election by the international community, including African regional blocs, have not congratulated Mr Tshisekedi, with some looking forward to final detailed results and many urging against violence.
Congo’s 80 million people have been largely peaceful since the vote, though the UN peacekeeping mission reported at least a dozen deaths in protests in Kwilu province. Authorities also noted demonstrations in Kisangani and Mbandaka cities.
Internet service has been cut off across the country since election day.