- Amid tight security, Joseph Kabila has been today sworn in as the first democratically-elected president of Congo Kinshasa (DRC) in 40 years. While state leaders from all over Africa attended the ceremony, Mr Kabila's prime challenger would not be part of the celebrations.
Eleven African leaders, including those from Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Burundi, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Togo, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Liberia and South Africa graced the symbolic event outside the burnt court house building in Kinshasa.
But President Kabila's rival in the hotly contested second round polls on 29 October, Jean-Pierre Bemba, snubbed the occasion. Mr Bemba vowed to lead a strong opposition fight.
Gathered in their large numbers to witness the 35-year-old President take his oath of office, the Congolese carried umbrellas with national colours of blue, red and yellow outside the burnt court house building.
Mr Kabila became President in 2001 following the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila. He thus became the third in row of non-elected Congolese state leaders, but today has been inaugurated as the first democratically chosen President of the republic in over forty years.
Incumbent President Kabila won the runoff with 58.05 percent against Mr Bemba's 41.9. A Kinshasa court ruled against Mr Bemba's legal contest that the elections had been rigged in favour of President Kabila. The aftermath of both first and second round polls were punctuated with violence death involving supporters of the two candidates.
Though the youngest Head of State in Africa, Mr Kabila has a Herculean task of rebuilding Congo - a country whose history is synonymous with dictatorship, war, corruption, disease and famine. His government's challenges include adding quality to education and health as well as convince its rebel faction, especially those in the east to lay down their arms.
President Kabila, who is by now seen as a unifying factor, promises to be a leader of all of Congo's "people, without distinction", but controlling the various armed groups in the east may become a significant challenge.
He assured that he would abide by "the trilogy of good governance, democracy and respect for human rights".
"A new page is opening up before us. I can see the Congo of tomorrow carrying the hopes of a renascent Africa at the dawn of this century with its great challenges," Mr Kabila said.
After the swearing-in-ceremony, the Congolese President's first task will be to name a Prime Minister who will constitute a cabinet of ministers to steer the affairs of the new government.
It is the expectation of many Congolese that the inauguration of Mr Kabila is a sign of positive development for their country.
On the eve of the inauguration, violence involving small militia groups in the eastern province occurred. And according to Ugandan military officials, 12,000 people from the region had entered Uganda to after they fled the fighting between the Congolese army and forces loyal to dissident general Laurent Nkunda.
Lasting peace in Congo Kinshasa has always been preached by regional and international organisations, including the United Nations and the European Union, which deploy their largest peace-keeping missions in the vast country.
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