Congo hit by clashes as Kabila wins poll

CLASHES between opposition protesters and security forces broke out in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday, killing at least one, a day after election authorities named incumbent President Joseph Kabila winner of a disputed poll.

Gunfire rang out in some cities, including the capital Kinshasa, after Kabila’s main challenger, Etienne Tshisekedi, said he rejected the official results and declared himself the new leader of the vast central African state.

“Since last night it has been very bad, we haven’t been able to sleep because of the gunfire,” said Tresor Nkuna, a resident of Kinshasa, an urban sprawl of ten million people. “We don’t know when it’ll stop. It’s very violent,” he said.

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Many other parts of Kinshasa were quiet with people staying indoors, but clashes between protesters and security forces were reported in other parts of the country, with the United Nations reporting at least one dead. Protests also erupted in former colonial power Belgium.

Congo’s vote on 28 November was its first locally-organised presidential contest since a 1998-2003 war that killed more than five million people, and was meant to move the country on a path to greater stability. But the poll was marred by violence, chaotic preparations and allegations of fraud.

Congo’s election commission announced on Friday that Kabila took nearly 49 per cent of the votes to Tshisekedi’s roughly 32 per cent, winning him a new mandate.

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