Belgium, France question Kabila re-election

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Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo's former colonial master, and France on Saturday questioned the re-election of President Joseph Kabila after the country's top court upheld his poll win.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said he would snub Tuesday's investiture ceremony in Kinshasa and regretted that the Supreme Court "did not use its prerogatives for a deeper, critical and independent probe," into the results of the November 28 election.

A statement said Belgium would be represented at the swearing-in by its envoy.

Supreme court vice-president Jerome Kitoko late Friday formally declared that Kabila had won 48.95 percent of the vote against 32.33 percent for veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

The decision confirmed the results declared on December 9 by the independent national election commission.

The rival candidates had a chance to challenge the results in the Supreme Court but few did so, amid wide concerns over the court's independence after Kabila expanded it from seven to 27 members before the election.

France's foreign ministry said Saturday it had "taken note" of the Supreme Court announcement but slammed the vote as seriously flawed.

"Several observer missions have pointed to serious irregularities and the lack of transparency in the verification and compiling of votes which have affected... confidence in the results," a statement said.

Saying Paris "strongly deplores" the shortcomings, the statement said the "international community should review its support of future stages in the Congolese democratic process," and called for "speedy corrective measures"

Tshisekedi had immediately rejected the election result and declared himself president.

Kabila secured 100 percent of votes cast at several polling stations.

He admitted Monday there were flaws in the elections that handed him a new five-year term but denied that vote lacked credibility.

That assessment was Kabila's first public statement since the bitterly disputed vote, whose outcome sparked violent protests in the capital and was also criticised by the country's powerful church.

"Were there mistakes, errors? Definitely, like in any other election, be it on the continent or otherwise," Kabila told a news conference in Kinshasa with journalists including the BBC.

"But does it put in doubt the credibility of the elections? I don't think so."

Kabila was catapulted to power in 1991 at the age of 30 after the assassination of his father Laurent.


© 2011 AFP

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