The Opaque Landslide

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Incumbent Felix Tshisekedi won the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s presidential elections, a victory that many opposition candidates quickly disputed as fraudulent and called for protests, the Financial Times reported Monday.

Election officials announced Sunday that Tshisekedi secured more than 72 percent of the vote during elections Dec. 20, while one of his rivals, Moïse Katumbi, came in second with 18 percent.

The results came nearly two weeks after the vote, which was marred by irregularities – two-thirds of polling stations failed to open on time, for example – prompting authorities to extend the presidential race to Dec. 21.

But soon after the election results were announced, Katumbi and other candidates challenged them as “electoral fraud” and urged their supporters to take to the streets.

Last week, authorities broke up crowds in the capital, Kinshasa, preparing to march on the headquarters of the country’s election commission. Opposition politicians have accused the commission of supporting the government.

Even so, analyst Alex Vines of the United Kingdom-based analytical group Chatham House said it was unlikely that the results would be overturned, adding that Tshisekedi’s victory was possible because the opposition failed to unite.

He said the government is likely to withstand opposition challenges, from both street protests and at the constitutional court.

Congo possesses half of the world’s cobalt and vital minerals crucial for the global shift to net zero carbon emission goals. Despite being rich in resources, Congolese politicians have struggled to improve living standards for most of its citizens, with nearly two-thirds living on less than $2.15 a day.

The country is also home to the Congo Basin rainforest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, known as the “lungs of Africa.”

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