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Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election, according to the country's electoral commission. As Congo anxiously awaits the outcome of the presidential election, many in the capital say they are convinced that the opposition won and that the delay in announcing results is allowing manipulation in favor of the ruling party.

The church refused to name its "clear victor, " but diplomats briefed on its findings said opposition leader Martin Fayulu won easily and that other election observers showed similar results.

Congo appeared ready to achieve its first peaceful transfer of power with the surprise victory Thursday of opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, despite clear signs that a rival opposition leader actually won in a landslide.

"In this context, it is important that any challenge to the provisional results, including claims of inconsistencies with the verdict of the ballot box, be pursued peacefully, through avenues provided by the existing national legal framework, and political dialogue among all stakeholders", the statement also reads.

The UDPS also warned that the commission could be delaying the announcement of the December 30 election results in a bid to manipulate the outcome.

Mr Fayulu's supporters say this backs their suspicion that Mr Tshisekedi has cut a power-sharing deal with Mr Kabila.

Residents celebrate in Kinshasa, Congo, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, after learning that opposition presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi had been declared the victor of the elections.

The contradictory views could lead to a bitter and drawn out standoff in a nation which was hoping to see its first successful democratic transition of power.

Opposition fears that authorities would rig the vote in favor of Kabila's hand-picked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, did not materialize as Shadary finished a distant third to Tshisekedi and Fayulu, with about 4.4 million votes.

Kabila has ruled since 2001 in the troubled nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones around the world.

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In some regions, gatherings of three or more people have been outlawed.

"This is the coronation of a lifetime", said the deputy secretary-general of Tshisekedi's party, Rubens Mikindo.

Police installed metal barriers and blocked traffic outside the electoral commission as it continued meetings that began late Tuesday.

Analysts are now looking to the verdict of the influential body representing Congo's Catholic bishops that said January 3 that results gathered at polling stations on election day by its 40,000-strong observation mission showed which candidate had won, without naming the person.

Western pressure likely has little effect, however, as Congo's government has rejected what it calls interference and expelled the European Union ambassador days before the vote.

Many Congolese had objected to Shadary, suspecting that Kabila would continue to rule from behind the scenes.

Now Congo faces a new leader who is little known after spending many years in Belgium and standing behind his outspoken father.

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.

Tshisekedi is the son of the legendary Etienne Tshisekedi, who led opposition to three successive presidents over 35 years. He was less visible in campaigning than Fayulu and did not make himself available to reporters after the vote.

Mr Tshisekedi's spokesman, Louis d'Or Ngalamulume, said there was "never any deal".


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