The electoral commission gave Tshisekedi, son of the country’s long-term opposition leader, 38.57 percent of the vote, just ahead of opposition rival Martin Fayulu with 34.8 percent.
But the runner-up immediately called foul, decrying “an electoral coup,” while the influential Catholic Church questioned the result — clouding the vote’s legitimacy and hopes of peace.
“The National Independent Electoral Commission has announced provisional results, but we await clarification of questions which have been raised regarding the electoral count… We urge all stakeholders to remain calm as the process continues,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
He also noted the “importance of President Joseph Kabila’s decision to abide by his constitutionally mandated term limits and transfer power to a successor.”
Kabila had been due to step down two years ago but held on to power, sparking a political crisis and protests that were bloodily repressed.
The announcement of an opposition win was a shock as many had expected the results to be stacked in favor of Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. He came a distant third with 23.8 percent of the vote.