(Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo should recount votes of last month’s election, which the runner-up in the presidential contest claims was rigged, the Southern African Development Community said.

Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was declared the surprise winner of the Dec. 30 presidential poll. If the Constitutional Court validates the electoral commission’s results, he’ll succeed outgoing head of state Joseph Kabila, who was barred from seeking a third term.

Rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu finished second, while Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, came a distant third. Kabila’s ruling coalition won a comfortable majority in Congo’s National Assembly, which will constrain Tshisekedi’s capacity to act independently.

Fayulu claims he easily secured the most votes and has petitioned the Constitutional Court to order the electoral commission to carry out a recount of the presidential and legislative polls. An influential organization representing Congo’s Catholic bishops has also said the official presidential results don’t reflect the findings of its 40,000-strong observation mission.

“A recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers,” the SADC said in a statement Sunday.

The 16-member regional body also urged all Congolese political leaders “to pursue a negotiated political settlement for a government of national unity,” stating that such arrangements “were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.”

Congo accounts for two-thirds of global production of cobalt, a metal used in rechargeable batteries needed by electric vehicles, and has deposits of gold, diamonds, tin and coltan, an ore that contains a metal used in mobile phones.

The prospective change of administration may spur optimism among mining investors including Glencore Plc and Barrick Gold Corp. that they can reverse elements of a fiercely disputed new industry code that raised royalties and added taxes. The economy is forecast to grow 3.8 percent this year, and an average of 4.3 percent annually over the next three years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Clowes in Kinshasa at wclowes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at lthomasson@bloomberg.net, Nicholas Larkin, Alex Devine

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