An opposition politician in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has invited his millions of followers to conduct a peaceful campaign of civil disobedience following the rejection of his appeal against the election results by the country's highest court.
Martin Fayulu said he considers himself "the only legitimate elected president" of the country and has urged the Congolese people not to recognize "anyone who illegally claims it".
The constitutional court of the DRC confirmed early Sunday morning that Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the country's main opposition party, was the winner of the polls that took place after more than two years of delays in December.
Fayulu, who was placed in second place, rejected the provisional official count released last week, saying it was the product of a secret deal between Tshisekedi and outgoing president, Joseph Kabila, to betray him in a clear victory.
The leaked internal data seen by the Guardian by the electoral commission in the DRC and the influential Catholic church, which has deployed more than 40,000 monitors on polling day, seems to indicate that Fayulu has won convincingly with about 60% of the votes cast .
Helpers from Kabila and Tshisekedi denied that they agreed, even if they confirmed a dialogue.
The influential African Union has broken with a long tradition of supporting governments in power to implicitly question the results. The experts described the usually conservative appeal of the AU for the final results that have been postponed as "incredible".
On Sunday, the Southern African Development Community, which had previously been skeptical about the results, issued a statement to congratulate Tshisekedi on his victory.
Kinshasa officials have suggested that Tshisekedi, who inherited the leadership of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress when his father died in 2017 and has not previously held positions, could be inaugurated as president on Tuesday.
Such a rapid opening would be a gamble that could further destabilize the DRC, intensifying the sporadic unrest in which 34 people have already been killed, 59 wounded and 241 "arbitrary arrests" made last week, according to the human rights of the United Nations.
However, it is unclear whether Fayulu, who has exploited a deep anger among the common people for the behavior of a corrupt and incompetent elite, can mobilize a vast campaign of civil resistance. Although respected, the former executive of the transformed company deputy lacks the national organization of Tshisekedi.
Analysts say most of the security institutions remain loyal to Kabila.
Tshisekedi said today that the court's decision confirms it as the winner of the presidential election was a victory for the whole country.
"It's the Congo that won," he said, speaking to his supporters. "It is not the victory of one camp against another, I am engaged in a campaign to reconcile all the Congolese … The Congo we are about to form will not be a Congo of division, hatred or tribalism, it will be a reconciled Congo, a strong Congo which will focus on development, peace and security ".
The survey was intended to allow the first democratic transfer of the power of the DRC in 59 years of independence from Belgium.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende said by telephone that the ruling party had "taken note" of the court's decision. "Felix Tshisekedi will become the fifth president of the republic," said Mende.
Senior officials known to be loyal to Kabila have indicated their willingness to work with Tshisekedi.
"I reiterate my congratulations … and I ask the people to allow this first transition of power to take place in peace, long live democracy", said Julien Paluku, the governor of the restive eastern province of North Kivu on Twitter.
The constitutional court of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is widely regarded as loyal to Kabila, who has been in power since his father was assassinated in 2001.
Reports suggest that the internet service in the DRC is back, 20 days after it was discontinued following the elections in what appeared to be an attempt to dampen speculation about the results of the presidential elections and hinder the organization of the protests.
Fayulu called on the international community to reject the results of the survey. "I ask the entire international community not to recognize a power that has neither legitimacy nor legitimacy to represent the Congolese people," he said.