President Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Friday, triggering violent protests and a rival claim to power by his main challenger. Kabila gained 49% of the vote against 32% for veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the election commission announced.
But Tshisekedi, 78, immediately disputed the result and declared himself president. “I consider these results a real provocation of the Congolese people,” he said on RFI Radio. “As a consequence, I consider myself, from today, the elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Observers fear such statements could throw a match to the tinderbox of Kinshasa, where there were reports of unrest and gunfire soon after the results were announced. Police fired teargas to break up angry demonstrations, according to witnesses, and plumes of smoke smudged the skyline as tyres were burned outside counting centres. A huge security operation put opposition strongholds in the city under lockdown.