By Tim Nerozzi
In one of Africa’s largest countries, the Catholic Church is playing a direct role in politics in a way not seen since the 1980s. The Catholic Church in the Congo is taking a stand on a controversial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a long-time strongman is seeking to control the outcome.
During the 1980s in the Philippines and Poland, the Church took a very public stance in favor of democracy and against authoritarian regimes. The church appears to be returning to that tradition Democratic Republic of the Congo and their heavily scrutinized announcement of Felix Tshisekedi as incoming president has led the Church to release new, shocking data that challenges his victory’s legitimacy.
The Catholic Church of the Congo claims to hold data that shows the illegitimate outcome of the Congo’s recent presidential election. Felix Tshisekedi was announced as the winner of the election over opponent Martin Fayulu.
The Catholic Church has challenged this announced election result, citing their dataset which showed that Fayulu obtained an estimated 62.8% of the vote based on manually collected data from 43% of voter turnout.
The Catholic Church of the Congo, in anticipation of tampering in this historic election, organized tens of thousands of poll watchers and onlookers. These observers were sent to voting locations across the country to ensure a fair and transparent process, though government interference, such as the disabling of Congo internet connections, has made such goals difficult.
The data collected by the Catholic Church has been verified by the Financial Times(FT), who cross-referenced the information with previously-verified results gathered from a spreadsheet of over 49,000 electronic records.
The FT found that the data gathered by the Catholic Church “show a near perfect correlation” and “match almost perfectly.” Effectively, this data proves that Fayulu had not only more votes, but won by an enormous margin in respect to announced winner Tshsekedi.
Fayulu is appealing the election results to the constitutional courts, though many in the country have little hope for an impartial ruling.
The Congo is a former colony of Belgium, and for decades has only seen power transferred through violence or political manipulation. This year’s election was the first opportunity since the country’s independence in 1960 for the citizenry to democratically elect their leader.
The Catholic Church is a major cultural and political institution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over half the population is a member of the Catholic Church, and over 60% of primary education is provided by the Church. The Church also operates a network of hospitals, clinics, and crisis centers that provide basic and emergency healthcare for many of the Congo’s most vulnerable families.
While the Church does not directly control outside of Vatican City , it continues to exert political muscle in countries around the world. The Church is growing across Southern Africa. This year Catholicism celebrated its 150th anniversary in neighbouring Tanzania while Catholics in Southern Africa celebrated thier 200th anniversary.
In Eastern Europe and Poland in particular the Catholic Church was a rallying point for resistance to communism during the 1980s. During that same decade, Roman Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Sin, led the People Power Revolution – a series of civil demonstrations of resistance and unrest among the citizens of the Philippines. The campaign led to the expulsion of President Ferdinand Marcos.
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