Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu wipes his face before speaking to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa. Picture: Jerome Delay/AP

Johannesburg - While violence was averted and democracy given a boost in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after Felix Tshisekedi of the main opposition party was announced the winner of the 30 December presidential elections, the runner-up Martin Fayulu has declared the results an “electoral coup".

"These results have nothing to do with the truth at the ballot box," Fayulu told Radio France International.

"It's a real electoral coup, it's incomprehensible."

Prior to Wednesday's electoral announcement fears of violence had been escalating as dragged out vote-counting continued after the 30 December elections, with the official electoral body CENI blaming the delay on manual vote counting despite Sunday being the official day for the results to be announced.

Subsequently, activists and political opponents on Wednesday warned that they would take to the streets in protest if the winner was not announced, the Daily Nation reported.

The powerful Catholic Church last week also warned that it knew the real winner of the election while regional and international pressure was brought to bear on Kinshasa to give the DRC’s fledgling democracy a chance.

Ramazani Shadary, the handpicked successor to former president Joseph Kabila who has been in power for 18 years, only came third in the poll.  

However, in an ominous sign Fayula a former oil executive, who had been tipped as favourite in the few pre-election opinion polls, is now challenging the results ahead of the 15 January official and definitive announcement of the results which take place three days before the new president is due to be sworn in.

And this is not the first sign of discontent between Fayula and Tshisekedi, which began even before the presidential elections.

In November 2018, following three days of talks in Geneva to bridge rifts in the opposition, seven opposition leaders picked Fayulu as their joint candidate for the elections to replace president Kabila.

The choice of 61-year-old Fayulu then was a surprise as Tshisekedi, who heads the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, for years the country's main opposition party, had widely been seen as the front-runner.

African News Agency/ANA