France says DRC runner-up is apparent victor

"There's no spirit of revenge", said Felix Tshisekedi, the candidate of the longtime opposition UDPS party. Tshisekedi won the election amid concerns of vote-rigging.

The electoral commission (CENI) announced around 3.00 a.m. (0200 GMT) that opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, 55, had won the December 30 vote, edging out another opposition candidate, businessman Martin Fayulu. Long in the shadow of his father, the late opposition leader Etienne, Tshisekedi startled Congo past year by breaking away from the opposition's unity candidate, Fayulu, to stand on his own.

With 7 million votes, or 38 percent, Tshisekedi outpaced Fayulu, another opposition frontrunner, who came in second with more than 6 million votes.

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Careful statements by the worldwide community did not congratulate Tshisekedi but merely took note of the official results and urged peace and stability in a country with little of it. Observers appeared to be watching for how Fayulu's supporters reacted. "Ridiculous", he said. "These results have nothing to do with the truth of the polls".

The opposition was weakened by internal arguments and the exclusion by the electoral commission of two political heavyweights: Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former warlord, and Moïse Katumbi, a popular tycoon.

An al-Jazeera journalist is circumspect about whether the results will be announced then.

"The delay in releasing the results of the elections can lead to suspicions and compromise peace and stability of the country", South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu said in a joint statement.

Congo on December 30 voted for a successor to departing President Joseph Kabila.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Kinshasa that the results could lead to protests and allegations of rigging.

Last week, the more influential Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 observers during the vote, said that it knew who had won the election, and the result should be released "in keeping with truth and justice".

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu wipes his face before speaking to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa, DRC, Jan. 10, 2019. "So Tshisekedi's apparent victory may become subject to a legal challenge and protests". Nangaa said that, instead, the results announcement would be delayed until "next week", claiming that around half of the votes remained uncounted.

Several diplomats have told news outlets that the votes counted by the church's observation teams show Fayulu as the victor.

Felix Tshisekedi gestures as he is surrounded by his wife, relatives and supporters of his UDPS party (Union for Democracy and Social Progress), a few minutes after he was declared victor.

Britain's foreign secretary said he was "very concerned about discrepancies" in Congo's results, adding that the United Nations Security Council would discuss the matter on Friday.

The head of the commission, Corneille Nangaa, earlier said that the results from a number of polling stations still needed to be counted. He also made it clear that he was not looking for any deal with Kabila's governing coalition.

However election observers reported a number of irregularities during the polls and the opposition said it was marred by fraud.

Mixed reactions flooded Twitter after Felix Tshisekedi was named the surprise victor of presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Vanessa Coleman

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