Runner-up in DRC presidential election refuses to take MP seat

“I was elected president of the republic – I cannot fall back on being an MP, never!”

Martin Fayulu, the runner-up in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s controversial presidential vote, said Wednesday he would refuse to take his seat as an MP, describing the role as inappropriate for someone who considered himself to be the country’s “elected president.”

Fayulu is pursuing a campaign of verbal opposition to the outcome of the December 30 elections, which he says was rigged.

He was credited with 34.8 percent of the vote against 38.5 percent for fellow opposition candidate, Felix Tshisekedi.

“I was elected president of the republic — I cannot fall back on being an MP, never!” he told AFP.

“I am the elected president, and this is what I consider myself to be. I cannot be both the elected president and an MP,” he said.

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An aide to Fayulu confirmed that the MP had written to the administration of the National Assembly to say “he will not take his seat as a member for the city of Kinshasa.”

Fayulu says the outcome of the election was a stitchup by Tshisekedi and the outgoing president, Joseph Kabila, who was stepping down after 18 years in power.

He maintains he picked up around 60 percent of the vote. His claims of flaws have been boosted by the powerful Catholic church, which deployed 40,000 election observers, and the European Union.

Abroad, and at home, Tshisekedi’s declared victory seems otherwise to have been largely accepted, given the country’s bloody history.

His election marked the first peaceful transition of power since the Democratic Republic of Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

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Despite this, Tshisekedi, 55, finds himself having to share power, braking his declared ambitions of reforming a country marked by corruption and rights abuses.

He cannot push through his choice for prime minister as Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) wields a huge majority in the National Assembly, for which elections were also held on December 30.

The FCC has 342 of the 485 seats while only around 50 are members of the CACH, the bloc representing Tshisekedi, whose late father Etienne spent 35 years in opposition but never reached the top.

In a visit to Namibia last week, Tshisekedi said he would push ahead with naming a “moderator” to assemble a majority to back his choice for prime minister, but the FCC rebuffed his move.

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Tshisekedi vented his frustration, declaring: “The president that I am will not accept being a president who reigns but doesn’t govern.”

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