Felix Tshisekedi: Son, Heir And President Elect

Felix Tshisekedi: Son, Heir And President Elect

Felix Tshisekedi: Son, Heir And President Elect

Scores of Congolese are dancing and cheering outside the electoral commission in the morning after opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was declared the victor of the presidential election.

Long-delayed and widely anticipated, the election had the potential to be either the mineral-rich central African country's first peaceful democratic transfer of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, or a trigger-point for renewed violence.

The election itself was delayed for more than two years, sparking sometimes violent protests as people called on President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, to step aside.

Felix Tshisekedi, leader of Congolese main opposition the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, attends a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 23, 2018.

The win confounds expectations that outgoing President Joseph Kabila's protege, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, would become leader of the world's biggest cobalt producer.

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The other main opposition candidate, former oil executive Martin Fayulu - who was tipped as favourite in the few pre-election opinion polls - also sounded a conciliatory tone on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Fayulu and six other presidential candidates issued a statement saying that "the electoral results can not be negotiated and under no circumstances will we or the Congolese people accept such results". The discrepancy sets the stage for a possible standoff between the Congolese government and the Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is considered one of Congo's most influential and trusted institutions. Anti-government protests in towns and cities are likely under such delays, but of smaller size and duration than would probably occur in response to the (less likely) immediate announcement of a victory by Kabila's chosen successor or the outright invalidation of the 30 December results, which would respectively pose high and very high protest and riot risks.

Losing candidates, including Fayulu and Shadary, can contest the results before Congo's constitutional court, which has 10 days to hear and rule on any challenges.

"There's no spirit of revenge", said Tshisekedi.

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".

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Ahead of the election results, activist groups urged people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the outcome didn't match "the truth of the ballot boxes".

Observers said many polling stations opened late and closed early and in some places voting machines malfunctioned.

Spokeswoman Marie-France Idikayi tells The Associated Press that "we are waiting for the final deliberations of the electoral commission plenary session to end but the announcement room is prepared".

Shouts of joy erupted at the commission's offices as the historic results were announced.

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. Fayulu received more than 6 million votes.

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