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Hopes rise that DRC's elections are in home stretch

Hopes rise that DRC's elections are in home stretch”

"The two Presidents underscored that the delay in releasing the results of the elections can lead to suspicions and compromise peace and stability of the country", said the statement following the meeting in Durban.

The result could lead to Congo's first democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960, with longtime President Joseph Kabila due to step down in coming days.

The DRC - a vast and poor country burdened by a history of bloodshed - has been in the grip of a two-year crisis over the succession of President Joseph Kabila, who said last year he would finally step down after almost two decades as leader.

The son of Democratic Republic of Congo's veteran opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi has taken the prize that eluded his late father - the presidency.

It will come as a shock to many observers who believed authorities would ensure that the government candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, would be the victor in the polls, the third since the end of a bloody civil war in 2002.

Fayulu, who came second in the presidential poll behind Felix Tshisekedi, called the results fraudulent.

Runner-up Fayulu dismissed the results, however, claiming that there had been an "electoral coup".

Members of the electoral commission met on Wednesday night and said results would be announced between 24 and 48 hours. Shadary received more than 4 million votes.

Congo's powerful Catholic Church has said it found a clear victor from data compiled by its 40,000 observers deployed to all polling stations.

The UDPS also warned that the commission could be delaying the announcement of the December 30 election results in a bid to manipulate the outcome.

Losing candidates can contest the results before the country's constitutional court.

"There's no spirit of revenge", said Tshisekedi.

Mr Tshisekedi, who received more than 7 million votes, had not been widely considered the leading candidate. Kabila has promised a peaceful transition of power.

Congolese activist groups have urged people to "be ready to massively take to the streets" if the commission does not publish results in accordance with "the truth of the ballot boxes".

Scores of people in the capital, Kinshasa, danced after the election results were announced long after midnight, but observers waited to see how other Congolese would respond, especially after Fayulu this week warned that the results were "not negotiable".

The head of the electoral commission, Corneille Nangaa, earlier said that the results from a number of polling stations still needed to be counted. And in a last-minute decision, some 1 million of the country's 40 million voters were barred from participating, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola virus outbreak.

Shortly after the results were announced, Tshisekedi paid his respects to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, describing him as "an important political partner". Anti-riot police with water cannon are outside the building.

More than one million people were kept from voting on election day because of an Ebola outbreak and militia violence in opposition strongholds, mainly in DRC's east.



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