WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A return to conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo following the country's elections could have dire consequences for the region, an analyst said.
DRC President Joseph Kabila took 49 percent of the vote compared with 33 percent for his closest rival, Etienne Tshisekedi. Kabila's rivals said they'd reject the anticipated victory given the widespread allegations of fraud and intimidation during the Nov. 28 vote, the second since 1960.
African observers said the vote was "successful" but took note of several areas of concern. Observers with the Carter Center said the elections were largely "problematic."
Raymond Gilpin, an analyst at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said there were reports of regional interference as well. Protests from the opposition, he said, could spell trouble for the DRC.
"Violent protests could easily escalate, particularly given the tensions fueled by inflammatory rhetoric and accusations of electoral fraud," he said.
A team of mediators working with the U.N. mission in DRC met with Kabila and Tshisekedi to help avert political violence.
Gilpin said the United Nations needed to send a "strong statement" to Kinshasa.
"A return to violent conflict could once-again draw in the DRC's neighbors, with catastrophic regional consequences," he said.