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President-elect Biden calls for unity and healing

President-elect Biden calls for unity and healing
US President-elect Joe Biden. (Reuters)

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WASHINGTON – Democrat Joe Biden captured the U.S. presidency on Saturday, several major television networks said, as voters narrowly rebuffed Republican incumbent Donald Trump’s tumultuous leadership and embraced Biden’s promise to fight the coronavirus pandemic and fix the economy in a divided nation.

“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted,” Biden said on Twitter.

“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal.”

Trump, who has made repeated claims of electoral fraud without providing proof, immediately accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner”.

“This election is far from over,” he said in a statement.

State elections officials across the country say there has been no evidence of fraud.

Biden’s projected victory came after four days of nail-biting suspense over the outcome of Tuesday’s election, with the counting of votes in a handful of battleground states still going on thanks to a flood of mail-in ballots.

As the news broke, loud cheers erupted in the halls of the hotel where Biden aides were staying and around the country.

“Worth every minute,” of the wait, a Biden aide said, as campaign staff exchanged elbow bumps and air hugs in the lobby.

Cheers and applause was heard in neighbourhoods in Washington, D.C. In one community, people emerged onto balconies, yelling, waving and banging pots. The wave of noise built as more people learned of the news. Some were in tears. Music began to play, “We are the Champions” blared.

In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, people clapped, honked car horns and erupted in screams of joy as the news spread of Biden’s victory. Some residents danced on a building’s fire escape, cheering while others screamed “yes!” as they passed by.

The networks’ declaration that Biden had won came amid internal concerns within Trump’s team about the strategy going forward and pressure on him to pick a more professional legal team to outline where they believe voter fraud took place and show evidence pointing toward it.

One Trump loyalist said the president simply was not ready to admit defeat even though there would not be enough ballots thrown out in a recount to change the outcome. “There’s a mathematical certainty that he’s going to lose,” the loyalist said.

When Biden enters the White House on January 20, the oldest person to assume the office at age 78, he likely will face a difficult task governing in a deeply polarised Washington, underscored by a record nationwide voter turnout in a fight to the finish.

The former vice president had a 273 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner, having won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to put him over the 270 he needed to secure the presidency, according to Edison Research. (Reuters)