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DR Congo election: Kabila sworn in as rival challenges his legitimacy

Congo's President Joseph Kabila took the oath of office today for his second term. Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi promised to take his own oath Friday, and announced that Kabila's government was 'dismissed.'

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In his investiture ceremony, Kabila promised to create more jobs, reduce Congo’s dependence on the mining industry for revenues, revise the rules for foreign investors in mining, boost agricultural production, and to respect human rights.

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Reporters in Kinshasa say the streets were empty and quiet after Kabila declared a national holiday. But Tshisekedi, who is popular in Kinshasa and other urban centers across the Democratic Republic of Congo, has called for national strikes to protest what he calls a fraudulent election.

Official results from the Nov. 28 election show that Kabila won with 49 percent of the vote, compared with Tshisekedi’s 32 percent, but massive voting irregularities, including high turnout in certain pro-Kabila precincts and violent intimidation by both sides against rival activists were cause enough for outside observers like the Carter Center to declare that the elections “lacked credibility.” Tshisekedi refused to appeal the final vote tally to the Supreme Court, saying that most of the court justices were hand-picked Kabila supporters.

It is this level of doubt among significant numbers of Congolese that led the US government to call for a review process.

“We believe that the management and technical execution of these elections were seriously flawed, lacked transparency and did not measure up to the democratic gains we have seen in recent African elections," a State Department statement said.
 
 "We strongly urge all Congolese political leaders and their supporters to act responsibly, renounce violence, and resolve any disagreements through peaceful, constructive dialogue."

The next move in this game of brinksmanship now belongs to Tshisekedi. Will he urge his followers to take the street? If he does, will Kabila urge the Congolese Army, police, and his own presidential guard to use deadly force against protesters?

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