Congo opposition leader declared victor in long-delayed election

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Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi wins DR Congo election

Cape Town - The Congolese People's Organisation in South Africa fears that chaos could erupt in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the country's electoral commission declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the victor.

If the Constitutional Court validates the result, it'll mark the first transfer of power by the ballot box since Congo gained independence from Belgium almost six decades ago.

The election has been beset by significant delays of more than two years as many Congolese people anxious President Joseph Kabila would try to cling to power.

Tshisekedi, 55, is the son of the late Etienne Tshisekedi, the face of the DRC's opposition for decades.

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

The announcement of a victory by opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu (who the Catholic Church has indicated was the winner) is unlikely, but would pose high risks of looting by military elements and a coup attempt in Kinshasa.

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".

A CENI source and a diplomat said they expected results to be announced later on Wednesday.

Kabila's choice of successor fuelled accusations that the long-time leader - concerned about possible retribution - would use Shadary to protect his interests after the vote.

Campaign groups on Wednesday had called for the immediate release of the results and told people "to be prepared to go out onto the streets in massive numbers" if the outcome failed to accurately reflect the vote.

Fayulu and ruling party candidate Shadary can contest the results before the country's constitutional court, which has 10 days to hear and rule on any challenges.

"This is the coronation of a lifetime", the deputy secretary-general of Tshisekedi's party, Rubens Mikindo, said shortly after the announcement that his candidate had won, above the cheers at party headquarters.

He received more than 7 million of the 18 million votes cast (38 percent), the commission said.

He also told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir that Kabila could be honoured for ushering in a peaceful transition.

Nangaa has blamed the delay in announcing results on the opposition's insistence on manual counting.

After several days of intense speculation on the outcome of the DRC's presidential elections, the country's election board, CENI, proclaimed Felix Tshisekedi the victor. And in a last-minute decision, some 1 million of the country's 40 million voters were barred from participating, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola virus outbreak.

"Mr. Kabila is a Congolese citizen".

Now Congo faces a new leader who is little known after spending many years in Belgium and living in the shadow of his outspoken father. He was less visible in campaigning than Fayulu and did not make himself available to reporters after the vote.

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