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Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi wins DR Congo election

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi wins DR Congo election

The electoral commission (CENI) announced around 3.00 a.m. (0200 GMT) that opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, 55, had won the December 30 vote, edging out another opposition candidate, businessman Martin Fayulu. And the losing candidate called the result a "robbery".

Shouts of joy erupted at the commission's offices as the results were announced early on Thursday morning, AFP journalists reported.

Anger over the results, and particularly the Fayulu camp's suspicions that Tshisekedi won by cutting a power-sharing deal with Kabila, could cast a cloud over what is meant to be Congo's first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence. "In 2018 victory won't be stolen from Martin Fayulu".

Gleeful Tshsekedi supporters in Kinshasa, a lively opposition stronghold, said they were delighted by their candidate's win and happy to see Kabila step down.

Fayulu described the official results as an "electoral coup".

After the 30 December vote, internet and text-messaging services were shut down nationwide in a move that the government said was necessary to guard against the spread of unofficial results.

However, three diplomats speaking anonymously to Reuters said the church tallies had showed Mr Fayulu winning. "Mr Fayulu was in principle the leader to come out of these elections". He denounced the official vote results as "rigged" and called on people to "rise as one man to protect victory". Backed out of an opposition deal to have a unity candidate and ran on his own ticket with the backing of politician Vital Kamerhe. He has also spoken out against corruption in the Congo, a country rich with minerals.

"You know that this proclamation is the fruit of results trafficked, invented and fabricated", Fayulu told reporters after the results were announced.

Attention now turns to Congo's powerful Catholic church and whether it will dispute the official results. The Constitutional Court would make a final ruling on the outcome within nine days of the commission's announcement.

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There were celebrations in parts of Kinshasa and the south of the country, where Tshisekedi has broad support.

"I deplore all the disorder", Tshisekedi said. Fayulu, a former Exxon manager and Kinshasa lawmaker, accused the government of impeding his campaign by blocking flights and assaulting his supporters, which Kabila dismissed.

Many Congolese fear that a dispute could restart violence.

Election officers scrutinise voter registers in Bunia, Ituri, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Enough Project, a USA policy group that focuses on Africa, wants the global community to closely scrutinize the results, and take action if they are found to be rigged.

Several Congo analysts agreed that it appeared Kabila made a quiet agreement with Tshisekedi, saying Fayulu would have posed more of a threat.

"We must have clarity on these results, which are the opposite of what we expected, " Le Drian told CNews. Voting regulations prohibit anyone but the electoral commission from announcing results. He added that the United Nations Security Council would discuss the issue on Friday. "We are also waiting for the reactions of different observation missions that have observed the elections...and partners, particularly in Africa".

Last week CENCO called on the election commission to publish results "in keeping with truth and justice", adding that data in its possession pointed to a clear victor. The U.S. has also deployed troops in nearby Gabon and has urged American citizens to leave Congo because of security concerns.