Africa

DR Congo election: Vital Kamerhe anger at Supreme Court

Vital Kamerhe photographed on 12 December 2011
Image caption Vital Kamerhe comes from eastern DR Congo, where the president also draws support

Opposition lawyers in the Democratic Republic of Congo challenging the presidential election results says the Supreme Court is a "parody of justice".

Official results gave President Joseph Kabila 49% of the vote against 32% for opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

Vital Kamerhe, the candidate who took 7% of the vote, is leading the Supreme Court challenge.

But his lawyers walked out of the session after the court rejected all of their preliminary objections.

Overnight, the US said the elections were "seriously flawed", as it called for a review of the process.

The results' credibility has also been criticised by the European Union and the Carter Center, but the African Union said the polls were a success.

Mr Kamerhe, once an ally of Mr Kabila , broke away from the president's party to form the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC).

He comes from the Kivu region in eastern DR Congo, where Mr Kabila also draws much of his support.

Mediation rejected

On the steps of the courthouse in the capital, Kinshasa, Mr Kamerhe explained why his legal team had walked out of the hearing after one hour.

The BBC's Thomas Hubert in Kinshasa says police in riot gear and armoured trucks were on guard nearby.

"We did not pull out of the legal case, but we refused to validate a parody of justice," Mr Kamerhe said.

Our reporter says that as soon as the opposition's 23 lawyers had left, the court resumed the hearing with those representing the electoral commission and President Kabila.

It must decide by 17 December whether or not to validate provisional results.

Without a legal team to support the opposition challenge, the Supreme Court is now expected to confirm President Kabila's re-election, our reporter says.

Mr Tshisekedi has not mounted a legal challenge. He has rejected the result outright and has declared himself president.

A recently formed national mediation committee - including religious and academic leaders - went to meet Mr Tshisekedi on Thursday.

But a spokesman for Mr Tshisekedi said he would not consider any other option than the recognition of what he regards as his electoral victory.

President Kabila has rejected claims that he won elections through widespread rigging but admitted that "mistakes" had been made.

The AU and several regional bodies - including the Southern African Development Community - said the polls had been "successful" and disputes should be resolved through legal means.

In a statement earlier this week, the Carter Center, which had 26 teams of observers monitoring the elections, pointed to differences in the vote count between areas where Mr Kabila had strong support and areas that favoured Mr Tshisekedi.

Some constituencies in Katanga province "reported impossibly high rates of 99 to 100% voter turnout with all, or nearly all, votes going to incumbent President Joseph Kabila", the Center said.

Meanwhile in Kinshasa, where Mr Tshisekedi has strong support, results from nearly 2,000 polling station stations were lost - roughly a fifth of the city's total.

The elections are the first Congolese-organised polls since the end of a devastating war in 2003 which left millions dead.

An earlier poll in 2006 was organised under the auspices of the United Nations.

Mr Kabila has been president since 2001 following the assassination of his father, Laurent and he is due to be sworn in on 20 December for his second term if his victory is confirmed by the Supreme Court.

Inside DR Congo
size map
The Democratic Republic of Congo covers 2,344,858 square km of land in the centre of Africa, making it the 12th largest country in the world.
size map
Eastern DR Congo is awash with a variety of different rebel groups – some have come from neighbouring countries, while others have formed as self-defence groups. Many are taking advantage of the lack of a strong state to seize control of the area's mineral riches.
mineral wealth map
DR Congo has abundant mineral wealth. It has more than 70% of the world's coltan, used to make vital components of mobile phones, 30% of the planet's diamond reserves and vast deposits of cobalt, copper and bauxite. This wealth however has attracted looters and fuelled the country's civil war.
transport map
Despite the country's size, transport infrastructure is very poor. Of 153,497km of roads, only 2,794km are paved. There are around 4,000 km of railways but much is narrow-gauge track and in poor condition. Waterways are vital to transport goods but journeys can take months to complete. Overcrowded boats frequently capsize, while DR Congo has more plane crashes than any other country.
population map
With an estimated population of 71 million, DR Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa. Some 35% of the population live in cities and the capital Kinshasa is by far the largest, with more than 8 million inhabitants. DR Congo has around 200 ethnic identities with the majority of people belonging to the Kongo, Luba and Mongo groups.
demographic map
Given its size and resources DR Congo should be a prosperous country, but years of war, corruption and economic mismanagement have left it desperately poor. In 2011 it lags far behind in many key development indicators, with average life expectancy increasing by only 2 years since 1980, after a period when it actually fell during the mid 1990s.

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