The party behind the declared winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election on Saturday rejected the African Union's surprise request to delay announcing the final results amid "serious doubts" about the vote.
The unprecedented request by the continental body is "the work of some mining lobbies seeking to destabilize the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to perpetuate the looting of this country," the secretary-general of Felix Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, Jean-Marc Kabund, said in a statement.
He called on the Congolese people to mobilise and defend the mineral-rich country's sovereignty.
The AU has said it will send a high-level delegation to Congo on Monday to help resolve the electoral crisis. DRC's many neighbors are wary of unrest spilling across borders from the vast Central African nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world.
DRC's Constitutional Court is poised to rule on a challenge to the election results by the declared runner-up, who alleges fraud. Martin Fayulu seeks a recount in the December 30 vote, asserting that DRC's electoral commission published provisional results wildly different from those obtained at polling stations.
The electoral commission has said Tshisekedi won 38% of the vote and Fayulu 34%. However, leaked data published by some media outlets, attributed to the electoral commission and representing 86 percent of the votes, show that Fayulu won 59% while Tshisekedi received 19%.
Outside court, Fayulu's supporters have alleged that outgoing President Joseph Kabila made a backroom deal with Tshisekedi once it became clear that the ruling party's candidate did poorly in the election. Neither party has acknowledged the accusations.
The court could uphold the election results, order a recount or order a new election.
Ahead of the ruling, hundreds of Tshisekedi's supporters were in the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, waving tree branches and banners reading "Congo for the Congolese."
They headed toward the court to urge it not to recognize the AU's request.
"We are here to claim our right. We are heading to the Constitutional Court and the Rwandan Embassy to denounce what the African Union is plotting," said Papy Losala. The president of neighboring Rwanda, Paul Kagame, is the current AU chair.
"The first thing, Kagame is not a model of democracy," Losala said. "We were surprised that the African Union and (the Southern African Development Community) have come to tell us that we must cancel the elections."
Another Tshisekedi supporter, Valentin Tshimanga, said: "Rwandans in Rwanda, Congolese in Congo, France to French, so we warn all people who want to block the road to the UDPS victory today: We came to support our president that we all voted for."