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EU, AU urge Congo leader to unite country after tense polls

January 22, 2019
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European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, third right, chairs an EU-African Union meeting at the Europa building in Brussels, Tuesday, Jan. 22. 2019. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union and African Union on Tuesday committed to work closely with Congo’s president-elect Felix Tshisekedi, backing off reservations about the disputed vote.

Speaking after a meeting of EU-AU government ministers, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Tshisekedi, the son of the late opposition leader Etienne, to help heal divisions in the turbulent central African country. He faces inauguration on Thursday.

“The task facing the new president contains major challenges, in several sectors, on the security, social, economic and governance levels,” Mogherini told reporters in Brussels. “All of this requires that the president be a unifier; that he engages in a dialogue inside the country as well as abroad.”

Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera, who co-chaired the talks, said the AU commits to work with Congo’s people “to continue to surmount the challenges that may remain as they enter into a new political dispensation.”

Congo’s Constitutional Court on Sunday refused runner-up Martin Fayulu’s request for a recount and reaffirmed Tshisekedi’s win, despite leaked data attributed to the electoral commission that showed Fayulu won.

Previously, the AU had noted “serious doubts” about the vote and made an unprecedented request for Congo to delay the final results. Congo did not.

Both blocs said only that they take note of the court’s decision, preferring to focus on the fact that the elections were held at all. The mineral-rich country is on the brink of its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960 from Belgium.

Mogherini said that fact “in itself is a major achievement and the Congolese people have clearly expressed their will for change.”

She urged Tshisekedi to “build a shared agenda to respond to the political and economic hopes of the population.”

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