A southern African regional bloc urged officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo Sunday to recount the votes of its recent contested presidential election.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) called for a unity government in a statement issued by Zambian President Edgar Lungu, citing examples of similar deals struck in Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner of elections Sunday, but runner-up Martin Fayulu has challenged the outcome of the country’s election in court, claiming that his opponent made a deal with outgoing president Joseph Kabila.
Fayulu’s opposition coalition said Friday he captured 61 percent of the vote, citing figures from the Catholic Church, which placed 40,000 election observers across the Central African country. The coalition said Tshisekedi won 18 percent of the vote. By law, only the electoral commission can announce election results in Congo.
Fayulu, who has members of the Republican Guard deployed outside his home, called for a manual recount of the election.
Pre-election polls indicated that Fayulu was the favorite to replace outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Kabila backed another candidate, his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary.
Congo has never seen a peaceful transfer of power since winning independence from Belgium in 1960.
Last week’s election was originally scheduled for 2016 but was delayed as Kabila stayed in office past the end of his mandate, sparking protests that were crushed by security forces, leaving dozens dead.