Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of that nation’s presidential election Friday as riot police patrolled the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, and many shops remained closed for business in anticipation of post-election violence.
The results of the Nov. 28 poll were scheduled to be released Tuesday, but election officials say logistical problems held up the release of the official results until now. Also delayed was the election, which dragged out for three days when polling stations ran out of ballots and violence caused polling stations to close. According to the official count, Kabila won re-election with nearly 49 percent of the vote, but now opposition supporters allege that corruption played a hand in the results.
"It is a totally unacceptable result," opponent Etienne Tshisekedi's campaign manager Alexis Mutanda told Reuters. "You can just look around Kinshasa or the rest of the country to see how many people are against these results."
Despite the problems encountered in the election administration, DRC officials lauded their work in making it through the second free election held since the country ended its brutal civil war in 2003.
"We have proven to the world that we can finance and organize elections," Kikaya Bin Karubi, who is also Congo's ambassador to Britain, told Reuters. "We are very happy and we are ready to continue the work rebuilding the country."
However proud, election observers from the African Union and U.S.-based Carter Center reported widespread irregularities and urged those unhappy with the results to seek redress through the country’s legal system; something that Tshisekedi’s camp says is pointless due to corruption.
"I consider this [result] declaration a outright provocation to our people and I reject it in full. As a result, I consider myself from this day on as the elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo," Tshisekedi said in a statement to Agence France Presse, Al Jazeera reports.
Calling upon his supporters, Tshisekedi said, "I urge you to stick together as one man behind me to face the events that will follow."
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(Photo: Edward Echwalu/REUTERS)