Congo poll: Etienne Tshisekedi condemns results

Traditional leaders attend the investiture ceremony for Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa on 20 December, 2011. Many observers have criticised Joseph Kabila's re-election as president

The Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition leader has condemned the results of parliamentary elections.

Etienne Tshisekedi said his party members who had won seats should boycott the parliament as November's general elections were rigged.

He also called for a general strike on Monday in protest at his house arrest.

President Joseph Kabila's PPRD and their allies say they will be able to muster a parliamentary majority, with 432 of the 500 seats declared.

He was declared the winner of the presidential election last month, although Mr Tshisekedi has rejected this and tried to swear himself in as president, leading to his house arrest.

On Thursday, police fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who were trying to accompany Mr Tshisekedi to the presidential palace in the capital, Kinshasa.

In reaction to his treatment he called for a national strike on Monday until "further notice", AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

In December, Mr Kabila admitted there were mistakes in the electoral process, but said no poll was 100% perfect and rejected concerns that the results, criticised by Western observers, lacked credibility.

Candidate prosecutions

In the early hours of Friday morning, the electoral commission announced the results of the parliamentary poll - contested by 18,000 candidates - which gave the PPRD 58 seats and Mr Tshisekedi's UDPS 34.

The BBC's Thomas Hubert in Kinshasa says nearly 100 parties will be represented in the National Assembly, along with many independents, and it will take a broad alliance to create a majority.

Our correspondent says that, with recently formed parties known to back the president and his twin sister Jaynet - elected as an independent - Mr Kabila hopes to reach the 250-vote majority needed to pass any legislation.

Alphonse Awenze Makiaba, who uses his bicycle to transport people and goods in the third city, Kisangani, and campaigned as the candidate of the poor, was also elected.

Our reporter says the long-awaited announcement of the results is not the end of DR Congo's electoral woes - many candidates are expected to file legal challenges to the results.

The electoral commission has asked the Supreme Court to order a rerun of the polls in seven constituencies where violence disrupted the election and prosecute the candidates involved.

Many of the remaining 68 seats still to be declared are in Kinshasa, which is seen as an opposition stronghold.

But Mr Tshisekedi called for new elections to be held on the grounds that the election commission lacked legitimacy and said newly elected UPDS MPs should not take up their seats.

Last November's elections were the first Congolese-organised polls since the end of a devastating war in 2003, which left some four million people dead.

The poll was also criticised by Catholic bishops, who complained in a statement of "treachery, lies and terror" and called on the election commission to correct "serious errors".

The head of UN peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, who is currently touring on the country, has urged dialogue between both sides to overcome the frustration over the flawed electoral process.

Inside DR Congo
size map
The Democratic Republic of Congo covers 2,344,858 square km of land in the centre of Africa, making it the 12th largest country in the world.
size map
Eastern DR Congo is awash with a variety of different rebel groups – some have come from neighbouring countries, while others have formed as self-defence groups. Many are taking advantage of the lack of a strong state to seize control of the area's mineral riches.
mineral wealth map
DR Congo has abundant mineral wealth. It has more than 70% of the world's coltan, used to make vital components of mobile phones, 30% of the planet's diamond reserves and vast deposits of cobalt, copper and bauxite. This wealth however has attracted looters and fuelled the country's civil war.
transport map
Despite the country's size, transport infrastructure is very poor. Of 153,497km of roads, only 2,794km are paved. There are around 4,000 km of railways but much is narrow-gauge track and in poor condition. Waterways are vital to transport goods but journeys can take months to complete. Overcrowded boats frequently capsize, while DR Congo has more plane crashes than any other country.
population map
With an estimated population of 71 million, DR Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa. Some 35% of the population live in cities and the capital Kinshasa is by far the largest, with more than 8 million inhabitants. DR Congo has around 200 ethnic identities with the majority of people belonging to the Kongo, Luba and Mongo groups.
demographic map
Given its size and resources DR Congo should be a prosperous country, but years of war, corruption and economic mismanagement have left it desperately poor. In 2011 it lags far behind in many key development indicators, with average life expectancy increasing by only 2 years since 1980, after a period when it actually fell during the mid 1990s.

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