EU, AU signal support, but no acclaim, for Congo president-elect

FILE PHOTO: Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections gestures to his supporters at the party headquarters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Olivia Acland/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and the African Union said on Tuesday they had taken note of the decision by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Constitutional Court to back disputed president-elect Felix Tshisekedi, signaling they would work with him.

Asked about the Dec. 30 election, the EU and the AU said they discussed the outcome at a meeting in Brussels, noting the court’s support for Tshisekedi. Officials at a news conference did not explicitly say in public that they recognized him as the winner and declined to congratulate him, however.

“We’ve taken note of the Constitutional Court’s proclamation … the challenge of the new president is a large one on many issues,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference, flanked by members of the African Union.

“We think all this requires that the president must be a unifying force,” Mogherini told a news conference, saying the European Union would continue to work closely with Congo.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera, who represented the African Union at the meeting of the two region’s foreign ministers, also said he noted the court’s decision.

“The African Union has taken note that the institutions of the DRC have announced a final result and remains committed to working with the people of the DRC to continue to surmount the challenges that may remain.”

African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui, who spoke after Mogherini and Sezibera, said he was ready to work with Tshisekedi and with all Congolese political parties but declined to go into details.

Congo’s Constitutional Court early on Sunday rejected runner-up candidate Martin Fayulu complaint that the election was rigged and backed Tshisekedi’s victory, opposition to the vote appears to have softened. Tshisekedi is expected to be sworn in on Jan. 24.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by John Stonestreet, William Maclean

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