Congo opposition leader Tshisekedi named presidential winner

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Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections walks after meeting to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission has declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the surprise winner of last month’s presidential election, a result that sets the stage for the country’s first democratic transfer of power.

The outcome of the disorganised and contentious Dec. 30 poll is likely to be contested by another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu.

Mr Tshisekedi had won with 38.57 percent of more than 18 million ballots cast, Corneille Nangaa, the president of the election commission (CENI), told a news conference.

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If Mr Tshisekedi’s victory is confirmed in the next 10 days by the constitutional court, he will become the first leader to take power at the ballot box since Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who was toppled in a coup less than three months after independence in 1960 and killed four months later.

Mr Tshisekedi is the son of the legendary Etienne Tshisekedi, who led opposition to three successive presidents over 35 years. Mr Felix’s profile rose after his father died in 2017, soon after negotiating the terms of a transition period when Mr Kabila refused to step down at the official end of his mandate the previous year.

Losing candidates can contest Mr Tshisekedi’s victory before Congo’s constitutional court, which has 10 days to hear and rule on any challenges.

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