Violence erupts in DR Congo as Kabila grabs victory in election


President Joseph Kabila

 Democratic Republic of Congo has slipped into internal fracas following the victory of President Joseph Kabila in the just concluded elections.

Authorities are appealing for calms as once again as the incumbent, Kabila grabbed victory once again but opposition party claimed the victory had been snatched  from them.

Main opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi  rejected official results outright declaring himself the winner. The resulting outcome of the standoff is raising fears of violence and wild confrontation.

Mr Tshisekedi along with the EU, the US, Britain, France and former colonial power Belgium appealed for calm.

Riot police are patrolling the capital, Kinshasa, and gunshots have been heard in various parts of the capital.

Columns of smoke were seen rising over districts backing Mr Tshisekedi as groups of young men burned tyres.

Meanwhile, in areas loyal to President Kabila, residents cheered and supporters staged victory parades.

Etienne TshisekediEtienne Tshisekedi insists he is the election winner

“I reject these results, and in fact I see them as a provocation against our people,” said 78-year-old Mr Tshisekedi.

“It is scandalous and vulgar. We have done our own calculations and I received 54% to Kabila’s 26%. His term is finished. I am the president.”

Mr Tshisekedi later appealed to his supporters to “stay calm and peaceful”.

However, he added that he was waiting to see if diplomatic efforts would change the situation.

The army says it has about 20,000 soldiers on standby in Kinshasa. The atmosphere in the city is said to be tense.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for “any differences regarding the provisional results of the polls to be resolved peacefully through available legal and mediation mechanisms”.

The French Foreign Ministry appealed for peace, saying: “France calls on all Congolese political players to show restraint and a spirit of responsibility.”

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington was calling on DR Congo’s leaders and their supporters “to act responsibly, to renounce violence, to resolve any disagreements they might have through peaceful dialogue”.

Results delayed

Earlier, election commission chief Daniel Ngoy Mulunda said President Kabila had gained 49% of the vote against 32% for Mr Tshisekedi.

The announcement had been delayed since Tuesday, with election officials blaming logistical problems.

Mr Tshisekedi’s supporters have been protesting in South Africa, Belgium, France and the UK, accusing the international community of backing Mr Kabila.

Four other candidates have said the election was rigged and should be annulled.

Supporters of President Kabila are overjoyed at the outcome

International observers said the vote was flawed but stopped short of calling it fraudulent. Most said the irregularities were not enough to change the outcome.

Deadly clashes marred the period leading up to the election and thousands of foreigners and Congolese have fled the country for fear of further violence.

Mr Kabila, 40, has been president since 2001 following the death of his father, Laurent.

In 2006 he won the first elections since the end of a five-year conflict and is due to be sworn in on 20 December for his second term.

But his victory must first be confirmed by the supreme court.

Mr Tshisekedi has said he has no intention of taking an election dispute to the court, which he regards as “Kabila’s private institution”.

Earlier this year, the constitution was amended so that the candidate with the most votes would win the election, removing the need for a second round.

Although DR Congo is rich in minerals such as gold and diamonds, years of conflict and mismanagement mean it recently came bottom of a survey of living standards around the world.