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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 23:13 GMT
Kabila confirmed as Congo leader
A boy celebrates next to banner depicting President Joseph Kabila
Mr Kabila has ruled DR Congo since his father's assassination in 2001
The Supreme Court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed head of state Joseph Kabila as the winner of the country's presidential election.

The court rejected a legal challenge by the losing candidate, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is a former rebel leader.

Officials said the provisional result in last month's run-off, giving Mr Kabila 58.05% of the vote, was valid.

International observers said the first democratic elections since independence in 1960 had been broadly free and fair.

'Unfounded' allegations

The head of the Supreme Court, Benoit Iwamba, announced Mr Kabila as president in a statement delivered in the heavily guarded government building in the capital, Kinshasa.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the complaints of election fraud filed by Mr Bemba's Movement for the Liberation of Congo party were "unfounded".

A spokesman from the president's Alliance for the Presidential Majority bloc hailed the ruling as "one of the finest pages of the Democratic Republic of Congo's history".

"We must all now get behind the new president to help him achieve his goals and his new contract with the Congolese people," said Olivier Kamitatu.

There was no immediate reaction from Mr Bemba.

A soldier walks past a burnt building in the Supreme Court compound (22 Nov)
Bemba supporters set alight the Supreme Court last week
The decision means that Mr Kabila, president since his father's assassination in 2001, will continue to rule the central African country which is trying to recover after a bloody five-year war.

The news was met with jubilation by Mr Kabila's supporters but correspondents say tension is high in the capital, which is a Bemba stronghold.

Last week a protest by Bemba supporters outside the Supreme Court led to violence and the court was set alight.

Forces loyal to Mr Bemba were subsequently ordered out of the capital by Mr Kabila.

Meanwhile there have been clashes in eastern DR Congo where United Nations forces say they have stopped a dissident rebel general from advancing towards Goma.

Regional divide

The court confirmed the provisional results of the Independent Electoral Commission, with Mr Kabila winning 58.05% of the vote compared to Mr Bemba's 41.9%.

RUN-OFF RESULT
Map
Kabila: 58.05%
Bemba: 41.95%
Votes counted: 100%

The results showed a regional divide, with Mr Bemba gaining most votes in the Lingala-speaking west, including Kinshasa, while Mr Kabila won by a landslide in the Swahili-speaking east.

US election observer group the Carter Center said there was evidence of vote tampering on both sides.

But it said neither candidate benefited significantly over the other.

The elections were supposed to draw a line under a five-year conflict in which about four million people died.

The polls were organised under the terms of a 2002 peace deal that drew in the armies of nine other African countries.

Under the deal, former rebels were supposed to be integrated into the army, but progress has been slow and the three former rebel leaders who are vice-presidents have retained large personal security forces.

The world's biggest peacekeeping force - about 17,000 strong - is in DR Congo to prevent unrest.




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