Congo: Opposition Leader Tshisekedi Wins Presidential Vote

Congo: Opposition Leader Tshisekedi Wins Presidential Vote

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo's tightly contested presidential vote, the electoral commission says.

Tshisekedi, who received more than 7 million votes, had not been widely considered the leading candidate.

In the early hours of Thursday the head of DR Congo's National Electoral Commission (Ceni), Corneille Nangaa, said Mr Tshisekedi had received 38.5% of the vote and had been "provisionally declared the elected president".

The victor of the Democratic Republic of Congo's historic presidential poll on Thursday hailed long-term leader Joseph Kabila as a "partner in democratic change".

The result could still be appealed in the Constitutional Court.

As the central African nation of 80 million people awaited the election results, riot police with water canon were deployed around the electoral commission and Kinshasa's main boulevard in anticipation of possible unrest.

Vote counting had been repeatedly delayed despite Sunday being D-day for the announcement of the provisional results with the official electoral office CENI saying that the delay was due to only a manual tally being counted, raising suspicions by the opposition that the delay was deliberate.

Kabila, 47, has ruled since the 2001 assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila, who overthrew long-serving dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.

Congolese activist groups have urged people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the commission does not publish results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes".

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And this is not the first sign of discontent between Fayula and Tshisekedi, which began even before the presidential elections.

He said DR Congo's powerful Catholic Church, which deployed more than 40,000 observers to monitor the elections, knew who had really won the vote with their observations suggesting a win for Fayulu.

The largely peaceful election was marred by the malfunctioning of many voting machines that Congo used for the first time.

Fayulu, who was running well ahead of Tshisekedi in opinion polls ahead of the election, on Thursday called on the Congolese people to "rise as one man to protect victory".

Congo's government cut internet service the day after the vote to prevent speculation on social media.

Some Congolese tired of Kabila's long rule, two turbulent years of election delays and years of conflict that killed millions of people said they simply wanted peace.

The win confounds expectations that outgoing President Joseph Kabila's protege, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, would become leader of the world's biggest cobalt producer. "Only Martin Fayulu or Felix Tshisekedi's names can be accepted".

Tshisekedi junior took the helm of the party after his father died in February 2017.

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