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AFRICAN ECHO NEWS

KABILA WINS RUN OFF ELECTIONS

The Democratic Republic of Congo's Independent Electoral Commission has declared Joseph Kabila winner of a run-off presidential poll that marked the end of the country's threeyear transition to democracy. 

The commission president, Apollinaire Malumalu, announced on state television that Kabila, the incumbent, had won 58.05 percent of the vote and his challenger, Jean-Pierre Bemba, 41.95 percent. 

Malumalu said 65.36 percent of the nation's 25.4 million registered voters had cast ballots. 

The results are provisional until endorsed by the Supreme Court. Before then, it must review a complaint filed by Bemba's supporters contesting the results. Bemba's supporters are grouped under a coalition calling itself the Union pour la nation. It claims that Bemba won 52.2 percent of the vote. 

In the capital Kinshasa, a Bemba stronghold, reaction to Kabila's victory has been subdued. United Nations and European Union troops are patrolling the streets to prevent possible civil disobedience. 

Just hours before the announcement of the results on Wednesday, Kabila called on the nation to remain calm. He also told citizens to prepare for the post-electoral period during which the war-shattered country will need to be rebuilt. 

"The work ahead is harder," he said. "The Congolese people must remain calm because this is the moment we must all get down to work." 

In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Kabila, Bemba and their supporters to respond calmly to the provisional results and to use the law rather than violence to pursue any challenges. 

He said they should "avoid statements that could threaten the peaceful completion of the national election". 

Annan also expressed concern about violence on Saturday in Kinshasa that led to the deaths of four people. 

He welcomed a joint statement by Kabila and Bemba last week, in which they urged their supporters to stay calm and pledged not to challenge the results by force. 

Democratic Republic of Congo presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba has however rejected election results that gave victory to Joseph Kabila. 

The electoral commission announced President Kabila won 58.05% of the vote in the run-off poll, ahead of ex-rebel leader Mr Bemba who got 41.95%. Mr Bemba said he would use all legal channels to contest the result. 

Peacekeepers have deployed extra troops in the capital, Kinshasa - a Bemba stronghold - in case of trouble. 

Mr Kabila has appealed for calm as his supporters celebrated victory in the landmark election. The vote has been the first following DR Congo's five-year conflict. The timeline of this potentialy rich and powerful country is as follows. 

Leopold II 

King Leopold II, a man filled with greed and cunning, duplicity and charm, as any of the more complex villains of Shakespeare. Leopold accumulated a vast personal fortune from ivory and rubber through Congolese slave labor; 10 million people are estimated to have died from forced labor, starvation, and outright extermination during Leopold's colonial rule. His brutal exploitation of the Congo eventually became an international cause célèbre, prompting Belgium to take over administration of the Congo, which remained a colony until agitation for independence forced Brussels to grant freedomon June 30, 1960. 

Belgium stirred up a civil war that lead the Katanga Province seceded from the new republic on July 11, and another mining province, South Kasai, followed. Ironically, Belgium sent paratroopers to quell the civil war, and with President Joseph Kasavubu and Premier Patrice Lumumba of the national government in conflict, the United Nations flew in a peacekeeping force. 

Joseph Kasavubu 

The first elected president. He studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood but did not complete his training. Later, he became active in the nationalist movement while teaching school. In 1946 he asserted that the Congolese were the legitimate owners of the country and that the Belgians, as intruders, had to leave. In 1955 he became president of Abako, a cultural association of the Bakongo people. 

Under his leadership Abako became a powerful political organization. 

Briefly imprisoned in 1959 for inciting violence, he later attended (1960) the conference at Brussels that led to independence for the Congo. He became (1960) the Congo's first head of state. There ensued a struggle for power between him and Patrice Lumumba, the premier, in which each attempted to dismiss the other. 

Lumumba was ousted by Kasavubu with the aid of Colonel Mobutu (see Mobutu Sese Seko). In 1965, Mobutu deposed Kasavubu, who retired from politics. 

Patrice Lumumba 
Lumumba, Patrice Emergy , 1925–61, prime minister (1960) of the Republic of the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). He was educated in mission schools and later worked as a postal clerk. He became a member of the permanent committee of the All-African Peoples Conference (founded in Accra, 1958) and president of the Congolese National Movement, an influential political party. 

After the uprising (Jan., 1959) in the Congo, he fled the country to escape arrest but soon returned. Late in 1959, accused of instigating public violence, he was jailed by the Belgians but was released (1960) to participate in the Brussels Congo conference, where he emerged as a leading negotiator. 

When the Republic of the Congo came into existence (June, 1960) Lumumba was its first premier and minister of defense. Shortly after independence, The Belgians maliciously pushed the army to mutiny, the Belgian government flew in troops to protect Belgian citizens, and Katanga province declared its independence. 

Lumumba appealed for aid to the United Nations. In September, President Kasavubu, his rival for power, dismissed him as prime minister and he, in turn, dismissed Kasavubu as president. Lumumba was killed by a strange coalition of CIA agents and Belgian mercenaries. Riots of protest took place in many parts of the world. 

Mobutu Sese Seko 
1930–97. Born Joseph Désiré Mobutu, he returned from his studies in Brussels to the then Belgian Congo, joining the nationalist movement in 1956. 

In 1960 he led an army coup against the nationalist government of Patrice Lumumba; Mobutu soon became the army chief of staff. In a second coup (1965), he assumed the office of prime minister (1966), then established (1967) a presidential form of government headed by himself; the constitution did not come into force until 1970. As part of his program of “national authenticity,” Mobutu changed the Congo's name to Zaïre (1971) and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko (1972). 

Citizens were required to drop their Christian names; place names were Africanized. Power was concentrated in Mobutu, who, backed by Western intelligence agencies that saw in him a foil to such leftist states as Angola, established a one-party state and a cult of personality. 

He suppressed tribal conflicts and encouraged a sense of nationhood. 

By 1991 economic deterioration and unrest led him to agree to share power with opposition leaders, but he used the army to thwart change until May, 1997. Mobutu died in Morocco. 

Laurent-Desire Kabila 
Laurent Desire Kabila was born in 1939 in the Katanga Province. He studied political philosophy at a university in France and attended the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. When Congo gained independence in 1960, Kabila was a youth leader in a political party allied to Patrice Lumumba. 

After Lumumba's assassination, Kabila helped lead one of three rebellions launched by Lumumba supporters in different parts of the country. Ernesto (Che) Guevara, the Argentine-born revolutionary, assisted Kabila's revolt--in the eastern province of South Kivu--. The revolt was suppressed in 1965 by the Congolese army, led by Mobutu. Mobutu seized power later that year. 

Kabila in 1967 founded the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP), which later set up a mini-state in South Kivu. Kabila and the PRP lived in relative obscurity for the next two decades. The PRP mini-state came to an end in the 1980s. 

Kabila spent most of the next decade in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam. In 1996, Laurent Kabila and his long-standing but little-known guerrilla movement launched a seven-month campaign that ousted Mobutu. 

The country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo, its name before Mobutu changed it to Zaire in 1971. During the first two years of Laurent Kabila's reign, economic and social life had improved. But when Rwandan and Ugandan troops invaded the country, everything was shattered. 

On January 16, 2001 Laurent Kabila, was shot in the presidential palace in Kinshasa in January. He later died from the wounds.. 


Joseph Kabila 
Joseph Kabila was born on December 4 1971, at Hewa Bora, South Kivu. As a youth, Joseph Kabila spent much of his life in exile in Tanzania where he received extensive military training. 

He was in command of the army when he was chosen to take over the presidency. 

On June 1, 2006, after many wedding rumors were fueled by many in top positions in the country, the President got married to Ms. Olive Lembe di Sita. Mr. Kabila and his wife already have a daughter, born in 2001, named Sifa after Kabila's mother. The wedding ceremonies took place on June 17, 2006.

 

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