Felix Tshisekedi, an opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was sworn in Thursday as the country’s new president — succeeding longtime head Joseph Kabila.
The Congolese Constitutional Court declared Tshisekedi the winner of the Dec. 30 election after certifying the vote, the first transfer of power for the Congo in its 59 years of independence.
“We hope that this will be a real change, especially as he has taken power without bloodshed,” Saddam Kongolo, a member of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress, said.
Rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who finished second in last month’s vote, has not yet conceded and has called on supporters to protest. Fayulu accused Tshisekedi of reaching a backroom deal with Kabila to deny him victory.
The country’s Independent National Electoral Commission said this month Tshisekedi won 38 percent of the vote to Fayulu’s 34 percent. Fayulu, though, claims he took more than 60 percent of the vote.
The African Union also expressed “serious doubts” about the results of the election. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa both congratulated Tshisekedi for winning.
The U.S. State Department has officially recognized Tshisekedi as the new president.
Tshieskedi will be met with immediate challenges in his country, including the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.