President Joseph Kabila
KINSHASA, 16 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - The Democratic Republic of Congo's Independent Electoral Commission has declared Joseph Kabila winner of a run-off presidential poll that marked the end of the country's three-year transition to democracy.
The commission president, Apollinaire Malumalu, announced on state television that Kabila, the incumbent, had won 58.05 percent of the vote and his challenger, Jean-Pierre Bemba, 41.95 percent.
Malumalu said 65.36 percent of the nation's 25.4 million registered voters had cast ballots.
The results are provisional until endorsed by the Supreme Court. Before then, it must review a complaint filed by Bemba's supporters contesting the results. Bemba's supporters are grouped under a coalition calling itself the Union pour la nation. It claims that Bemba won 52.2 percent of the vote.
In the capital Kinshasa, a Bemba stronghold, reaction to Kabila's victory has been subdued. United Nations and European Union troops are patrolling the streets to prevent possible civil disobedience.
Just hours before the announcement of the results on Wednesday, Kabila called on the nation to remain calm. He also told citizens to prepare for the post-electoral period during which the war-shattered country will need to be rebuilt.
"The work ahead is harder," he said. "The Congolese people must remain calm because this is the moment we must all get down to work."
In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Kabila, Bemba and their supporters to respond calmly to the provisional results and to use the law rather than violence to pursue any challenges.
He said they should "avoid statements that could threaten the peaceful completion of the national election".
Annan also expressed concern about violence on Saturday in Kinshasa that led to the deaths of four people. He welcomed a joint statement by Kabila and Bemba last week, in which they urged their supporters to stay calm and pledged not to challenge the results by force.