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Early results indicate Kabila lead

Preliminary results issued by the Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission make it all but certain that President Joseph Kabila will be declared the winner of the recent presidential election, setting the stage for civil unrest as the opposition continued to insist they will reject the results.

Supporters of long-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi have vowed to take to the streets if Mr Kabila is declared the winner.

"We do not take into account these results. We reject them ... There is nothing credible about them, nothing serious," said Jacquemain Shabani, the secretary-general of the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress party. "It's impossible that tomorrow Kabila will be officially declared president."

Just before midnight Tuesday, election commission chief Daniel Ngoy Mulunda announced that the commission will require another 48 hours to issue the final provisional results.

The delay, he said, is due to the fact that tally sheets from numerous provinces have still not been turned in. Helicopters were dispatched to try to collect them in this vast, largely roadless central African nation.

With 89.2% of precincts counted, Mr Kabila was leading with 8.3 million out of the 17.3 million votes, or 48%. Mr Tshisekedi was trailing with 5.9 million votes, or 34%. The results were published on Wednesday on the website of a United Nations-backed broadcaster, Radio Okapi.

The threat of unrest hung over the capital, Kinshasa, and international airlines cancelled their flights.

Anxious residents queued at the port, waiting for water taxis to take them across the massive river separating Kinshasa from Brazzaville - the capital of DR Congo's neighbour to the north, the smaller Republic of Congo.

Last week's voting was marred by technical glitches, including the late delivery of ballots, some of which didn't reach polling stations until three days after the vote was supposed to take place. Even though it was clear that the election commission was not prepared for last week's ballot, the government rushed ahead with the election because the current president's five-year term expired Tuesday at midnight.

The 48-hour delay means that Kabila will be staying in office past his legal mandate. Analysts say the country could slide into a situation of unconstitutional power which could stoke tension in DR Congo.

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