Felix Tshisekedi was nominated as a temporary winner of the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one historic victory for an opposition leader.
But questions have been raised about the accuracy of the results amid allegations of a power-sharing agreement with outgoing President Joseph Kabila.
The electoral commission said that Tshisekedi had received 38.5% of the votes on December 30, against 34.7% of Martin Fayulu, another opposition figure. The candidate for the Emmanuel Shadary coalition took 23.8%.
Those who raise doubts about the results include the French and Belgian governments and the influential Catholic Church of the country.
What are their trials?
The Catholic Church, through the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (Cenco), reported that the results, announced in the early hours of Thursday morning, did not correspond to its results.
But Cenco, who said he had 40,000 election observers who had visited all 75,000 polling stations, did not release his data.
Three diplomats who spoke anonymously to the Reuters news agency said that Church reports have shown that Mr. Fayulu had won.
Opinion polls must always be treated with caution, even more so in a country where the political climate is unstable  But the African policy expert Pierre Englebert says that polling data before the elections December 30th show that the official results were "highly implausible".
"The probability that Tshisekedi has obtained 38% in a free election is less than 0.0000," he wrote in an article for the online magazine African Arguments, indicating the election data of Berci and Ipsos for the Congo Research Group.
He said that the expected data:
- A 95% probability that Mr Tshisekedi would arrive between 21.3% and 25% of the votes
- Mr. Fayulu would have obtained between 39% and 43% of the votes
- Mr. Shadary would get between 14% and 17.4%.
Mr. Englebert acknowledged that the polls could be wrong, stating that the official results could be correct if the turnout was 90% in Mr. Tshisekedi's strongholds and very low, about 30%, in the strongholds of Mr. Fayulu. But he claimed that this was extremely unlikely.
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So, how would fraud be possible?
There are many ways to organize an election.
Academic Nic Cheeseman, who has written a book on how to do just that, told the BBC that if the election had been rigged it probably happened during the collection of the results.
He said that very few people should be involved in this.
"It's very simple: you can have a small number of people in a central office that releases the result.
" You can have one person by adding only 1,000 votes to a candidate and subtracting 1,000 from another on a spreadsheet of Excel. "
He said that the risk of fraud was normally avoided by observers who tabulate the results in parallel, but we do not have the data.
During the election campaign, the use of machines for electronic voting was one of the main sources of contention: voters used the tablets to select candidates and then printed the ballot paper with their choices, to hold an electronic count to help verify the results.
39. Mr Englebert says that in the days following the vote, election observers have reported that some of these machines have disappeared
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the Church by not announcing who she thinks has won?
Observers were forbidden by law to release their findings before the electoral commission announced the official results. It is not clear if the law applies after the official announcement.
But the Catholic Church knows from the experience of past repressions that leading people on the street can have tragic consequences – and the ruling coalition has warned against "preparing the population for insurrection."
Séverine Autesserre, author of the book The Trouble with Congo, says that the Congolese police have been brutal in their dealings with protesters in the past.
He told the BBC that if the Church, whose followers make up around 40% of the country's 80 million inhabitants, had to announce that Mr. Fayulu had won – the consequences could be disastrous
"You would have huge and violent protests, you would have riots," he told the BBC.
"The police would have suppressed the demonstrators and this would result in a lot of deaths."
Friday Catholic bishops have urged the UN Security Council to pressure the Congolese electoral commission to publish the full results of each polling station.
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Did the "missing millions" make a difference?
Yes, according to Mr. Englebert.
The elections were postponed to March in three areas: Beni and Butembo in the eastern province of North Kivu and Yumbi in the western part of the country. The reasons for the delay were given by an Ebola outbreak and an insecurity
. This equates to more than 1.7 million voters, more than the number of votes that separates the main candidates.
Some of those who were disinherited were in the strongholds of Mr. Fayulu, he says.
What happens next?
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Mr. Fayulu promised to challenge the result in the Constitutional Court.
Candidates must appeal within 48 hours from the announcement of the provisional results. The judges therefore have seven days to deliberate.
The constitutional expert Jacques Ndjoli told the BBC that there were three possible outcomes:
- The court could confirm the victory of Tshisekedi
- Could order a recount
- Or cancel the results of the everything and call new elections.
International pressure to resolve the dispute may have a role, but UN Security Council members are divided. Countries like Belgium and France believe there has been fraud but Chinese and Russian diplomats have pointed out that the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the electoral commission's authority must be respected.
Corneille Nangaa, head of the electoral commission, defended the results and accused Cenco of bias.
He told the Security Council about the difficulties faced by the commission to register 40 million voters for the vote that had taken place in relative calm and noted the enormous success achieved by those who resisted attempts to allow to Mr. Kabila of Executed for a third term.
He urged the international community to support the new leader, reminding the Council that for the first time in almost 60 years there would now be a transfer of power to the highest level.
A complete collapse of votes would have been released if the Constitutional Court had requested it, he said.
The court has never overturned the results before, and some think that most of its judges are close to the ruling party.
Tshisekedi, the leader of the largest opposition party who had faced repression at the hands of the Kabila regime, denied allegations of fraud.
If it is confirmed as the winner, it can be expected to be inaugurated within 10 days. The inauguration is scheduled for January 18th.
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