KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- The incumbent president has won a tense runoff, nearly complete election results showed yesterday .
He now has to make order out of the chaos that long has plagued a country that is bursting with natural resources and teeming with former warlords.
First, Joseph Kabila, 35, must placate his rival, Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former rebel leader whose fighters have clashed with his in central Kinshasa twice over election results.
Bemba's supporters issued a bellicose statement yesterday saying their count gave Bemba a lead of more than 52 percent, which would mean he had won.
The supporters called the official vote count an "electoral holdup."
They threatened to tear up accords promising not to use military force to resolve disputes about the Oct. 29 runoff.
Kabila's lead seemed insurmountable, with results from 90 percent of votes published on the election commission website giving him almost 60 percent to Bemba's 40 percent.
No official announcement was expected while the commission completes its investigations into fraud complaints lodged by Bemba's camp.
The hints at violence, fraud allegations and criticism of the process were ominous in a country hoping finally to turn the page on brutal colonial rule, rapacious dictatorship, and years of conflict.
If Kabila is declared the winner, as seemed likely, he will face the challenge of unifying a country with little sense of nationhood, and little experience of resolving differences through politics.
"I ask the international community to abstain from all attempts to impose on the people of Congo he whom they have not chosen as their president," Cardinal Frédéric Etsou, the top cleric in a country where the Catholic Church is the strongest institution, said in an interview with Radio France Internationale.
Belgian colonizers and the former dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, used force to keep together the country of 200 tribes who speak a half-dozen languages.
The incumbent's father, Laurent Kabila, was propelled to power in 1997 as head of a rebel force that rose up against Mobutu, but who was assassinated by a bodyguard in 2001.
The youthful Kabila, who has led a transitional government since 2001, has managed to convince foreign governments that he is capable of governing, but that can raise suspicions among a people wary of outsiders meddling after decades of colonialism, and a war that saw neighboring countries fighting for a share of Congo's natural resources.
Many Congolese believe that the international community through the UN, which has a large peacekeeping force and helped with the elections here, was determined to see Kabila win.
Bemba's camp has charged "systematic cheating" in the count. "All we want is that the truth of the ballot comes out of these elections, which we have worked to make free, democratic, and transparent," Bemba said in a televised address Monday night.