DRC President Pledges Unity Following Disputed Election

Posted December 20th, 2011 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Newly inaugurated Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has pledged to unify his country, even though opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi argues he is his country's rightful leader.

Mr. Kabila took the oath of office Tuesday in Kinshasa, following last month's election that international observers say had many irregularities, during voting and counting.

''On November 28, you were asked to choose on the one hand between an illusory business based on incendiary language, and on the other hand the consolidation of peace and stability and the pursuit of the reconstruction of the country.''

Mr. Kabila says there is no question about the legitimacy of his re-election, and election officials say he easily won. But Mr. Tshisekedi has rejected the results as fraudulent and has declared himself president, saying he will take office Friday.

The U.S. said Tuesday it is “deeply disappointed” by Congo's decision to uphold the the election results without fully evaluating widespread reports of irregularities. A statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the election was seriously flawed and lacked transparency.

Mr. Kabila has suggested Mr. Tshisekedi use the appeals system to challenge the results.

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

Mr. Kabila first became president after his father's assassination in 2001, and later won office following a U.N.-sponsored vote in 2006.