DRC: opposition groups are decrying President Félix Tshisekedi's re-election as fraudulent

Félix Tshisekedi, screenshot from France24's YouTube channel

Incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi secured reelection for a second term in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of December 2023. However, his victory is marred by contesting opposition forces that do not acknowledge the legitimacy of his election.

The Democratic Republic of Congo‘s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) declared on December 31, 2023, that Félix Tshisekedi has been re-elected for another five-year term as president, securing 73.34 percent of the votes in the elections held on December 20 and 21, 2023. Out of an anticipated 40 million voters from a population of over 100 million, the elections saw a turnout of just 18 million, translating to a participation rate of 43 percent.

For more: What to read and who to follow to understand the socio-political news in the DRC?

The rest of the votes were split among the other presidential candidates. Moïse Katumbi of the Ensemble for the Republic Party and former governor of Katanga in the south-east received 18.08 percent of the votes. Martin Fayulu, representing the Commitment for Citizenship and Development (Ecidé) party, earned 5.33 percent. Adolphe Muzito, who served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012 under the former president Joseph Kabila, garnered 1.12 percent. Denis Mukwege, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, entered the political arena for the first time and received less than 1 percent of the vote.

A predictable victory

Before the elections took place, various analyses had already positioned Félix Tshisekedi as the frontrunner. According to a survey conducted by GeoPoll, a socio-political barometer based in the United States, from September 16 to November 20, 2023, over 70 percent of Congolese were prepared to grant Tshisekedi a second term.

The media outlet The Voice of Congo, for its part, mentions the results of the fourth GeoPoll survey on its X (formerly Twitter) account.

‘Support for President Tshisekedi's bid for a second term is increasingly solidifying, as 77% of those surveyed indicate their intention to cast their vote for him.’

—The Voice Of Congo (@VoiceOfCongo) December 19, 2023

The results declared by CENI thus confirm the figures from the polls.

The opposition completely rejects the results announced by CENI

However, the opposition far from agrees with these results: as early as December 31, opponent Martin Fayulu denounced Tshisekedi's reelection on his X account through a video message, and called on the Congolese people to protest.

I categorically reject the sham elections and the absurd results of the #CENI. I call upon the Congolese people to protest against this new coup d'état in accordance with Article 64 of our Constitution. pic.twitter.com/PHjlTyAw37

—Martin Fayulu (@MartinFayulu) December 31, 2023

For his part, the opposition figure Moise Katumbi calls on his X account for the Congolese to engage in peaceful marches to demand a genuine election.

Following the sham elections organised by CENI, the Congolese people, as entitled by the constitution, have decided to take matters into their own hands and peacefully march to demand a fair election. In response, they were met with gunfire and blind violence from law enforcement, resulting in numerous injuries. This is unacceptable! I vehemently condemn the repression that the Kinois [residents of Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC], including many supporters of #ECIDE, Martin Fayulu's allied party, have suffered. A point of no return has been reached. This initial march will be followed by further actions nationwide. Cheating, fraud, and lies will not prevail. I extend my sympathy to the injured and victims of tyranny. Their courage in peacefully defending freedom and democracy aligns with our heroes. United, we are bound to take control of our destiny. A new Congo is possible!

—Moise Katumbi (@moise_katumbi) December 27, 2023

The two candidates here refer to Article 64 of the Congolese constitution that stipulates that:

Tout Congolais a le devoir de faire échec à tout individu ou groupe d’individus qui prend le pouvoir par la force ou qui l’exerce en violation des dispositions de la présente Constitution

Every Congolese citizen shall oppose any individual or group of individuals who seize power through force or exercise it in contravention of the provisions of this constitution.

Elections marred by irregularities

It is undeniable that the electoral process faced numerous procedural breaches. Logistics issues marred the preparations for the elections. Some polling stations opened with significant delays, while others lacked electoral materials at the start of voting. The election observation mission, jointly organised by the Catholic and Protestant churches and mentioned by France24, noted in its midday report on December 20:

(…)31,37 % des bureaux de vote n’ont pas ouvert ce matin, 45,1 % ont connu le dysfonctionnement des Dispositifs électroniques de vote. Par ailleurs, 9,8 % de bureaux de vote ont été interdits d’accès aux observateurs et 7,84 % ont enregistré des actes de violence dont 5,88 % saccagés.

(…) 31.37% of polling stations failed to open this morning, 45.1% encountered issues with electronic voting devices. Additionally, 9.8% of polling stations were restricted from observer access, and 7.84% reported instances of violence, with 5.88% of them being vandalised.

International reactions

While the incumbent president's reelection doesn't enjoy unanimous support within the Congolese political class, international congratulations are pouring in.

In Central Africa, Evariste Ndayishimiye, president of Burundi, sent a congratulatory message on December 31.

I warmly congratulate my counterpart and brother, H.E. Félix Antoine Tshisekedi, on his reelection at the helm of #DRC following the release of provisional results. In the event of any electoral disputes, I hope for a peaceful resolution through legal means. pic.twitter.com/cIYH9WG9f1

—SE Evariste Ndayishimiye (@GeneralNeva) December 31, 2023

He is followed by João Lourenço, the president of Angola. In his view, Tshisekedi's reelection guarantees that peace and stability will be restored in the country and the Central African region. His remarks are echoed by the media outlet Le Potentiel on its X account:

João Lourenço believes that this reelection will pave the way for the reestablishment of peace and stability in both the country and the region.

“I am confident that the renewal of Your Excellency's leadership at the helm of the Democratic Republic of Congo guarantees that we will take significant strides towards restoring of peace in our region, strengthening cooperation within the SADC, and further enhancing the existing cooperative relations between our two countries,” João Lourenço, as quoted by the Angolan press agency.

— Le Potentiel (@LePotentiel_rdc) January 2, 2024

In West Africa, the congratulatory message for Tshisekedi comes from Faure Gnassingbé, the president of Togo. On his X account, he writes:

Warm congratulations to my brother and friend, His Excellency Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, @Fatshi20, on his reelection to the highest office in #DRC, following the results from the Electoral Commission.

I am confident that this new mandate provides us with the opportunity to continue strengthening the historical bonds of friendship, fraternity, and cooperation between our countries. I extend heartfelt wishes to the brotherly people of #Congo for peace, stability, and harmony.

—Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBÉ (@FEGnassingbe) January 2, 2024

Despite these messages, it is essential to remember that the primary regional challenge lies in resolving the conflict in the eastern region of the country, where the rebels of the March 23 Movement have been fighting the Armed Forces of the DRC since 2012. Unquestionably, restoring peace to this area must rank among the top priorities of Tshisekedi's new term.

To learn more about the DRC, read:

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.