DRC court weighs election demand
Kinshasa - The Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday began hearing a suit for the annulment of the November presidential election lodged by a key opponent of President Joseph Kabila.
The suit was filed by presidential candidate Vital Kamerhe, who denounced numerous irregularities during the poll on November 28, which handed a fresh term to Kabila, who was the incumbent president of the vast central African country.
When the hearing opened at 13:00, the judge president of the court aroused the wrath of the 15 lawyers representing Kamerhe, who came third in the race on provisional figures, in calling for the candidate to be in court.
In response, the lawyers demanded the presence of Kabila, declared winner on provisional results, and of the president of the independent national electoral commission (CENI), Father Daniel Ngoy Mulunda.
"If the intention is not to have a real hearing, our presence is not necessary," lawyer Joseph Mukendi added.
However, Kamerhe then arrived in the courtroom, to applause from most of the 350 people present.
Kamerhe is the only one of 11 candidates to have challenged the provisional results before the Supreme Court, which is the same body due to release the official final results on Saturday.
On December 9, the CENI provisionally announced the victory of Kabila in the polls, with 48.95%, ahead of veteran opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi, with 32.33%, who has rejected this result and declared himself "president elect" of the DR Congo.
The announcement of Kablia's victory led to riots in Kinshasa and calls from opposition leaders for the international community to intervene.
In his case before the court, of which AFP obtained a copy, Kamerhe, the former speaker of the national assembly and a onetime aide to Kabila, denounced "intentional violations" of the electoral law by the CENI, notably the failure to post up lists of voters within the due delay.
Voters' lists in each of the 64 000 polling stations should have been posted 30 days before the poll, but sometimes went up just two days earlier.
Kamerhe also denounced "the illegal and irregular circulation of voting slips" before the poll and also of ballot papers "already marked in favour of candidate No 3" - Kabila - on voting day.
Kamerhe argued that the national electoral commission's provisional results showed a "lack of sincerity" with some polling stations reporting that Kabila won 100% of the votes cast.
He demanded the annulment of the vote and a fresh election.
Other candidates have made similar complaints but declined to take them to the Supreme Court, alleging that the judges are in Kabila's pocket. Kamerhe said that he was attached to the law, while believing that the Supreme Court has "no credit".
The EU, the non-profit Carter Centre and other election monitors have voiced serious concerns over the credibility of the polls, citing problems in the vote count and the loss of huge numbers of ballots.