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Congo election: opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi declared surprise winner

Riot police deployed amid fears of violence over alleged vote-rigging

Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s main opposition party, has been declared the surprise winner of the 30 December presidential election in the vast central African country.

The result, announced early on Thursday, means the first electoral transfer of power in 59 years of independence in the DRC.

It will come as a shock to many observers who believed authorities would ensure that the government candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, would be the victor in the polls, the third since the end of a bloody civil war in 2002. Shadary was hand-picked by outgoing president Joseph Kabila to succeed him.

In addition, pre-election polls had given outspoken opposition frontrunner Martin Fayulu, a respected former business executive, a healthy lead.

Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, one of Kabila’s top advisers, said he accepted the loss on Thursday. “Of course we are not happy as our candidate [Shadary] lost, but the Congolese people have chosen and democracy has triumphed,” Kikaya told Reuters.

Tshisekedi paid his respects to Kabila, whom he described as “an important partner … in democratic transition in our country”.

Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters in the capital Kinshasa, Tshisekedi said he would be the president “of all Congolese”.

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DylanThomas

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