KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s Supreme Court confirmed the incumbent Joseph Kabila on Friday as the winner of a disputed November 28 presidential election, rejecting opposition demands for the vote to be annulled over fraud allegations.
The court’s president, Jerome Kitoko, said Kabila had won 48.95 percent of the vote.
“In consequence, Joseph Kabila is proclaimed president-elect of the republic with a simple majority,” he said at the Justice Ministry.
The court said the opposition had failed to provide proof of their allegations.
Congo’s election commission last Friday declared Kabila winner of the vote, which observers said lacked credibility and was marred by irregularities and violence.
The European Union and the United States have separately said the vote was flawed while French Prime Minister Alain Juppe said the situation in Congo was explosive, urging political leaders to seek a solution to the crisis.
Many hoped that Congo’s second post-war election would set the vast mineral-rich Central African nation on the path to recovery and further investments in its resources, but the disputed election risks plunging it into a prolonged crisis.
Congo’s opposition immediately said they “totally rejected” the ruling.
“The Supreme Court is just an instrument of Kabila, just like the electoral commission,” said Alexis Mutanda, head of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi’s election campaign.
Tshisekedi, who came second, has called the election results “a provocation” and said he considers himself Congo’s president.
“The party is going to decide what to do, we just think its a masquerade,” Mutanda said by phone.
He said the Congolese people were waiting for Tshisekedi to call for protests but could take matters into their own hands.
“He does not have to give the order, the people can take charge on their own,” he said.
Kabila has brushed off criticism of the vote while the head of the election commission has said any irregularities during the poll were not enough to have changed the outcome.
Hastily installed as president in 2001 when his father Laurent was assassinated at the height of Congo’s 1998-2003 civil war, Kabila went on to win election in a disputed vote in 2006.
He remains a divisive figure among the 70 million Congolese, hailed by some for unifying the vast country after a ruinous war but criticized by others for failing to tackle poverty and graft.
Norbert Mitumba Kilombo, Kabila’s representative at the court, said after the judge’s decision it was a happy day for Kabila and the country.
“I’m joyful to see that despite the difficulties, this period of the presidential election is coming to a happy conclusion,” he said.
Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Sophie Hares and Kevin Liffey