President Joseph Kabila on Thursday was poised to claim victory in an election marred by delays, fraud allegations and violence. With 90% of ballots counted, Mr. Kabila had 48% of the vote, while his closest challenger, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, had 34%, Congo’s independent election commission said, with full results expected on Friday.
Mr. Tshisekedi, a former prime minister, has rejected partial tallies released this week showing him trailing Mr. Kabila. His defiance has sparked street protests by his supporters in Congo and even European capitals. On Thursday, sporadic clashes between protesters and police broke out in the capital, Kinshasa. Supporters of Mr. Tshisekedi accused police of opening fire in front of the candidate’s home, wounding several people. Attempts to reach Mr. Kabila and the police were unsuccessful.
Despite poor management and fraud allegations by the opposition, the international community has been restrained in its criticism of the vote amid concerns that wider unrest could erupt in the war-ravaged country.
On Thursday, the French, British and Belgian ambassadors held a joint meeting in Kinshasa to demand Mr. Tshisekedi call on his followers to remain calm when the results are announced.
Speaking after their meeting, Belgian Ambassador Dominique Struye de Swielande acknowledged the election’s flaws, but played down their impact.
“We work through observing missions, which in general observed that many aspects of the election went well,” he said. “While recognizing deficiencies that could lead to controversies, we hope the truth will come out of the ballot box.”
Full Article: Congo President Nears Election Victory – WSJ.com.