Kabila wins DR Congo elections and calls for calm

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The Independent Online

Joseph Kabila has been declared winner of elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo after chaotic and sometimes violent polls that were rejected by the opposition and criticised by international observers.

Three days of delays and mounting tension in the vast central African country culminated in the election commission announcing the current president had won with nearly 49 per cent, while his main rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, received 32 per cent. The streets of the capital, Kinshasa were largely empty last night except for heavily armed police.

The head of the election body, who was attacked for being close to Mr Kabila, appealed for calm, saying there was "no reason to whip up the population against the established order to contest the results".

Mr Tshisekedi, a former prime minister, denounced the results as "totally unacceptable". On the eve of elections he called on his supporters to "take responsibility" for the outcome of the vote if it was judged by him to have been stolen.

The bulk of Mr Tshisekedi's support is civilian and comes from Kinshasa's vast slums and his home region of the Kasais. Mr Kabila's loyal Republican Guard has shown itself willing to fire on unarmed opposition supporters, with at least 18 people killed during the weekend prior to voting. Three more people were killed outside Mr Tshisekedi's house in Kinshasa on Thursday by police.

The Catholic Church, which deployed many observers and which has warned of serious unrest, is due to give its verdict on the results.