Regional powers in the 16-nation Southern African Development Community(SADC) hailed Felix Tshisekedi as DR Congo’s incoming president on Sunday.
This was despite claims by his opponents of an election stitch-up and the African Union earlier warning of “serious doubts” over the result.
But the SADC congratulated Tshisekedi on Sunday for being declared president-elect and called for a peaceful handover of power.
“The SADC reiterates the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC,” its chairman Hage Geingob, president of Namibia, said in a statement.
“SADC calls upon all Congolese to accept the outcome, consolidate democracy and maintain a peaceful and stable environment.”
Hundreds of Tshisekedi’s supporters celebrated by blowing whistles and horns near his party headquarters in the capital Kinshasa, where the atmosphere was otherwise calm on Sunday.
Announcing the final results of the much-delayed poll, the Constitutional Court threw out a legal challenge by runner-up Martin Fayulu in an overnight declaration early on Sunday.
It declared Tshisekedi the winner, paving the way for him to take over from the country’s longtime leader Joseph Kabila, 47.
The election dispute has raised fears of fresh bloodshed in the vast and volatile central African nation.
The chairman of the African Union (AU), Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was due in Kinshasa on Monday after the AU questioned the election results.
The bloc had called for the final results to be delayed.
Fayulu has described the outcome of the vote as an “electoral coup”.
He called for peaceful protests, though no major incidents were reported across the country on Sunday.
Fayulu has alleged that Tshisekedi promised to protect Kabila’s political and financial interests in return for helping to ensure his victory.
“I ask the entire international community not to recognise a power that has neither legitimacy nor legal standing to represent the Congolese people,” he said of Tshisekedi.
The winning candidate called for unity.
“This is not a victory for one side or the other,” Tshisekedi said in a video message.
“The Congo we are going to build will not be a Congo of division, hate and tribalism — it will be a Congo that is reconciled, a strong Congo, looking towards development, peace and security for all.”
Tshisekedi’s victory was provisionally announced earlier this month by the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) but it was challenged both at home and abroad.
On Sunday, the Constitutional Court, which is made up of Kabila’s allies, said Fayulu had failed to prove any inaccuracies in the figures. It described his call for a recount as “absurd”.
The Constitutional Court said Fayulu’s claims were ‘unfounded’ and he had failed to prove any inaccuracies in the results
The court declared Tshisekedi as the “president of the Democratic Republic of Congo by simple majority”. (NAN)