Leaders for for peace, calm in DRC

KINSHASA - Politicians on all sides called for calm yesterday after Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo's bitterly fought presidential election.

KINSHASA - Politicians on all sides called for calm yesterday after Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo's bitterly fought presidential election.

Kabila took 58,05 percent of the vote in the October 29 second-round ballot, compared with 41,9 percent for his rival, vice-president Jean- Pierre Bemba, the country's Independent Electoral Commission said.

In a statement shortly after the results were announced late on Wednesday, Kabila appealed to his countrymen to demonstrate "brotherhood and tolerance" in the election aftermath.

The DRC's first multi-party election in more than four decades was marred by clashes between rival security forces loyal to Kabila or Bemba, a former rebel leader.

But fears of further violence in the immediate aftermath of the final results proved unfounded as the streets of Kinshasa, a Bemba stronghold, were calm early yesterday.

Kabila's party called for "unity and reconciliation" in the wake of the commission's announcement.

"This is a victory for all Congolese people - it is a historic moment for our country," said the party's Olivier Kamitatu.

"Everyone will have their place. Everyone will have a role to play. Everyone will express themselves for the betterment of the country."

Bemba's cabinet chief Fidele Babala denounced the outcome as an "electoral hold-up" late on Wednesday - a reference to complaints about irregularities, which have been dismissed by local and foreign monitors.

But by yesterday morning, after a night of celebrations in Kabila strongholds in the east of the massive central African country, Bemba's camp was choosing its words more carefully.

"People were expecting a war plan from us, some troubles. But we're not into that," Babala said.

The UN mission in the DRC said it "congratulates the Congolese people for the peaceful way in which they cast their votes and calls on them to continue to remain calm as the country awaits the final results of the polls". - Sapa-AFP

X