DRC runner-up Tshisekedi declares himself president

Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi on Friday rejected the election victory of incumbent Joseph Kabila announced by the polling body and proclaimed himself the country’s elected president.

“I consider this [result] declaration an 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,” he said in a statement.

Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, secured 49% of the vote on November 28 while Tshisekedi received just 32.3%, according to provisional results read out on Friday by the head of the election commission.

The polls are just the second in the DRC since back-to-back wars from 1996 to 2003, and analysts have warned they could unleash fresh unrest.

Tshisekedi made a veiled threat of violence if the results were allowed to stand.

“I call on the international community, which has relentlessly encouraged me to guarantee a peaceful process, to not only find a solution to this problem but take all possible measures so that the blood of the Congolese people is not spilled again,” he said.

To his supporters, whom he calls “fighters”, he said: “I urge you to stick together as one man behind me to face the events that will follow.”

After the results were announced shots rang out in at least two neighbourhoods of the capital Kinshasa.

Agence France-Presse correspondents said protesters set tyres on fire and threw stones at a heavy contingent of armed police in the central neighbourhood of Bandale. Gunshots were also heard in the area and in the eastern neighbourhood of Limete, where Tshisekedi has his party headquarters.

The Supreme Court has until December 17 to hear election disputes, review the provisional results and declare the definitive winner.

But with the court seen as close to Kabila—he expanded it from seven to 27 judges at the start of the campaign—analysts have warned Tshisekedi’s supporters are likely to take their grievances to the street.—AFP


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