Tshisekedi wins Congo presidency

Surprise winner Newly-elected Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi (left) and outgoing president Joseph Kabila sit side by side during the recent event in Kinshasa. Tshisekedi registered a surprising win an election that raised numerous concerns about voting irregularities. AP

KINSHASA — Congo opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has won the long-delayed presidential election, the electoral commission announced.

Tshisekedi, who received more than seven million votes, or 38 percent, had not been widely considered the leading candidate and is relatively untested.

The son of late opposition leader Etienne, who pursued the presidency for many years, he surprised Congolese last year by breaking away from an opposition effort to unite behind a single candidate.

This is Congo’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960.

Some observers have suggested that President Joseph Kabila’s government sought to make a deal as hopes faded for a win for ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who received more than four million votes, or 23 percent.

It was not immediately clear whether opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who had pushed hard for Kabila to leave power and vowed to clean up Congo’s widespread corruption, will contest the results after leading in polling.

The constitutional court has 14 days to validate them. Fayulu received more than six million votes, or 34 percent.

This is Congo’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960.

Kabila has ruled since 2001 in the troubled mineral-rich nation and has amassed vast wealth.

Congo is noted as the world’s top source for minerals being used in communication gadgets such as mobile phones and others.

He is barred from serving three consecutive terms, but during more than two years of election delays, many Congolese feared he’d find a way to stay in office.

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