Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s main opposition party, has been declared the surprise winner of the 30 December presidential election in the vast central African country.

Agencies 

The result, announced early on Thursday, means the first electoral transfer of power in 59 years of independence in the DRC.

It will come as a shock to many observers who believed authorities would ensure that the government candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, would be the victor in the polls, the third since the end of a bloody civil war in 2002. Shadary was hand-picked by outgoing president Joseph Kabila to succeed him.

In addition, pre-election polls had given outspoken opposition frontrunner Martin Fayulu, a respected former business executive, a healthy lead.

Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters in the capital Kinshasa, Tshisekedi said he would be the president “of all Congolese”.