KINSHASA, Congo — The confusion surrounding Congo’s historic presidential election deepened a day after the vote, as both opposition and ruling parties hinted at victory despite a lack of official results.
Sunday’s polls were marred by widespread irregularities and delays, both before and during voting. On Monday, Internet connection in the capital was interrupted throughout the day, a development the opposition said was a tactic to suppress news about results.
Congo’s election commission has promised provisional results by this coming Sunday, but political parties appear to be collecting their own tallies.
On Sunday night, Kikaya bin Karubi, an adviser to President Joseph Kabila who is also a spokesman for Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, told reporters that “there is absolutely no way Shadary can lose.”
In a message sent via Twitter to The Washington Post, opposition front-runner Martin Fayulu said: “We are seeing clear results in our favor throughout the country. Should the collection of regular results continue, there is very little doubt about the outcome of the election; the people have massively voted for change through me. The Internet was just shut down to stop the spread of the truth, just like in 2011.”
Telecommunications were shut down in the aftermath of elections in December 2011. At the time, the government said it was to stop the spread of fake results before the electoral commission made its official announcement.
Disputes after election results in 2006 and 2011 resulted in unrest, but only sporadic episodes of election-related violence have been reported since Sunday’s vote.
Vital Kamerhe, campaign manager for opposition candidate Félix Tshisekedi, told the Reuters news agency that early counting showed his candidate and Fayulu even, with 40 percent of the vote each.
The presidential election in this vast and mineral-rich country in the heart of Africa was delayed for two years and unfolded Sunday amid reports of alarming irregularities.
Thousands of voters were met with missing voter rolls and hundreds of malfunctioning or missing voting machines. In hundreds of cases, election observers said they were barred from polling stations, according to the Catholic Church’s observer mission.
Three cities were excluded from the vote altogether. In those places, hard hit by ethnic violence and a deadly Ebola outbreak, the election was postponed until March, a move that disenfranchises more than 1.2 million people because the presidential election will be decided in January.