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DRC Waits for Losing Candidate's Reaction Following Official Election Results

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VOA News - November 28, 2006

The Democratic Republic of Congo remains calm but tense after the Supreme Court certified the electoral victory of interim President Joseph Kabila. The losing candidate, former rebel and current Vice President, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has yet to concede. Naomi Schwarz reports from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

The streets are quiet now in DRC's capital Kinshasa, say local journalists and U.N. officials. But they are not ready to relax entirely, they say.

Jean-Pierre Bemba facing uphill battle in Congo elections
Jean-Pierre Bemba
There was a brief protest outside of one of Mr. Bemba's residences Tuesday, but it was quickly dispersed by police. Near the presidential palace, security forces watched as city workers repaired a main road ahead of next week's presidential inauguration.

Monday night, the Supreme Court certified Mr. Kabila's victory in the contested presidential race. This comes after weeks of court disputes and violent clashes over the legitimacy of the October 29 polls.

Mr. Bemba's camp says they are not pleased with the outcome.

"It is an electoral hold-up with the complicity of the supreme court," said Fidele Babala, director of Mr. Bemba's Cabinet.

Babala says that Mr. Bemba is planning to meet with the members of his team to determine their official statement and how they will proceed.

"We are going to talk about our position with regard to the democratic process," he said.

Several foreign governments, including South Africa and the former colonial power Belgium, have already congratulated Mr. Kabila as the DRC's newly-elected president.

Jason Stearns, an analyst with Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group, says international observers deemed the results of the election fair.

"Even though several observation missions did express their concerns over some irregularities in the voting process, they also said that no matter how large these concerns were, they under no circumstances could have made up the two-point-some million votes that separated the two candidates," Stearns said.

Although rich in natural resources, the DRC is impoverished, corrupt and ethnically divided.

And despite the massive presence of U.N. peacekeepers, there are still pockets of insecurity.

In recent days, the Congolese army and U.N. peacekeepers battled another former rebel, Laurent Nkunda, in the east of the country.


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