In the 2000 U.S. presidential race, results in Florida were close, disputed and forced a delay before the declaration of George Bush as president.  America didn’t know who was their president-elect.  We now have a similar situation in Congo.

Candidate Martin Fayulu is contesting the results and demanding a hand recount, claiming that Felix Tshisekedi has stolen the election in concert with past President Kabila.  The Catholic church supports Fayulu because they claim that their poll monitors determined Fayulu as winner.

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Martin Fayulu

I don’t understand how the church could make their claim, which they made before even half the votes were counted, and they were observers not members of the Electoral Commission.  This seems to be a case of Fayulu grasping at straws, because why not?

Polls may have had Fayulu slightly ahead of Tshisekedi but Tshisekedi’s victory was clear and not that out of line with polling.  Does anyone remember Donald Trump’s victory?  Can you imagine the challenges for good polling in Congo?  We talk about LIV’s, Low Information Voters.  Can you imagine the situation of LIV’s in Congo?  In the Congo environment, think of how important name recognition would be for a huge portion of voters.  Tshisekedi’s father Etienne iconically represented the opposition to Kabila for decades.  That name recognition benefit for Felix Tshisekedi could easily explain the gap in polling to the actual results.

An interesting development is that control of the National Assembly has been retained by members associated with Kabila.  This will be a thorn in the side of Tshisekedi (or Fayulu).  A review of the country’s governance, which is more similar to France than the U.S. or Britain, is in order.

From Wikipedia:  The government is composed of a cabinet of ministers, deputy-ministers (vice-ministers), and occasionally state-ministers (which is a senior personal honorific title). The number of these ministers vary from one government to the next. The cabinet is headed by the Prime Minister, also known as the head of government, appointed by the President, from the political party, the group or the coalition that holds the majority of seats in the National Assembly.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the cabinet is more commonly simply referred to as The Government.  The government is the effective executive arm of the state, in charge of all the country’s main administration, in all the domains reserved to the central government by the constitution, and in all the domains in which the central government has concurrent jurisdiction with the provinces.

The summary is that the cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister runs the government and legislature, not the President.  The President is all powerful when his party also controls the National Assembly.  While President Elect Tshisekedi will pick the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister will be a member of a competing party loyal to Kabila.  I smell political intrigue ahead!   In our current situation, the key power of President Elect Tshisekedi will be veto power over legislation and control of the Army.   Although a President picks a Prime Minister he can’t dismiss a Prime Minister.

I expect that we will be learning a lot more about the intricacies of the Congo constitution in the near future.  Unfortunately for Tshisekedi, a key criticism of him is his lack of experience which could become fatal given his need to maneuver politically with an unfriendly opposition party effectively in control of the government.  Fayulu is claiming that (behind the scenes) Kabila believes he can control Tshisekedi easier than Fayulu is these circumstances and that’s how and why Tshisekedi was elected.

Fortunately, the country is currently at peace as the vast majority are just happy to know the Kabila will no longer be president.  Stay tuned, as the process of reviewing the hanging chads and confirming the validity of the declared victor, will likely be underway for some time yet.