African Regional Bloc Backs Kabila Re-Election in Disputed Poll

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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Leaders from Africa's Great Lakes region have welcomed the re-election of Congolese President Joseph Kabila in a disputed poll.

The 11-member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region issued a statement Friday congratulating Mr. Kabila on his win. The bloc also urged opposition parties who have challenged the results to accept them and work toward building Congo.

The official tally from last month's poll shows Mr. Kabila with 49 percent of the vote and the second-place finisher, Etienne Tshisekedi, with 32 percent. Mr. Tshisekedi rejected the results and proclaimed himself president.

The third-place finisher, Vital Kamerhe, claimed the vote was rigged and filed a lawsuit seeking to annul the results. That case is currently before the country's Supreme Court.

International election observers reported numerous irregularities during both the vote and the counting process.

The statement from the Great Lakes conference came at the end of a two-day summit in Uganda's capital, Kampala.

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said the election was “seriously flawed.” However, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it was not clear whether the problems were enough to change the outcome of the election.

Mr. Kabila has said there is no doubting the credibility of the poll and urged Mr. Tshisekedi to use the courts to pursue any challenge to the results.

The presidential and legislative polls were only the second free elections in Congo since the nation was torn apart by several years of warfare that ended in 2003.