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US Congress certifies Electoral College result; clears way for Biden to become president

US Congress certifies Electoral College result; clears way for Biden to become president

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. (Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON: Democrat Joe Biden was on Thursday (Jan 7) cleared to be sworn in as United States president on Jan 20 when Vice President Mike Pence declared that Congress had confirmed the Electoral College tally of states' results.

The tally showed Biden as the winner of the Nov 3 contest against incumbent President Donald Trump by a margin of 306 electoral votes to 232.

President Donald Trump, in a statement tweeted by his social media director Dan Scavino, said there “will be an orderly transition on January 20th” after Congress concluded the electoral vote count and after a day of violence at the US Capitol.

READ: Capitol violence sparks a social media reckoning with Trump

READ: White House officials resign after Capitol violence

Vice President Mike Pence hands the West Virginia certification to staff members at the Capitol on Jan 7, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images/J Scott Applewhite)

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said.

“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”

Trump’s Twitter account is currently locked by the tech company.

CAPITOL STORMED

Hours after hundreds of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the US Capitol in a harrowing assault on American democracy, a shaken Congress resumed their work on certifying Biden's Electoral College win late on Wednesday, with debate stretching into the early hours of Thursday.

After debate, the House and Senate rejected two objections to the vote tally in Arizona and Pennsylvania and moved towards final certification.

READ: World stunned by violence in US Capitol as protesters attempt to overturn election

READ: Former US presidents condemn violence at US Capitol

US Vice President Mike Pence reads a sheet of paper with the final electoral vote counts declaring Joe Biden as the next US President during a joint session of Congress on Jan 7, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb)

The outcome had never been in doubt, but had been interrupted by rioters - spurred on by Trump - who forced their way past metal security barricades, broke windows and scaled walls to fight their way into the Capitol.

Pence, in declaring the final vote totals behind Biden's victory, said this "shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons elected president and vice president of the United States".

The assault on the Capitol was the culmination of months of divisive and escalating rhetoric around the Nov 3 election, with Trump repeatedly making false claims that the voting process was rigged and urging his supporters to help him overturn his loss.

READ: Trump's Cabinet discussing his removal after storming of US Capitol: Reports

READ: Commentary: The nightmarish end to Donald Trump’s presidency

Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stand after reading the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November's presidential election during a joint session of Congress, after working through the night, at the Capitol on Jan 7, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images/J Scott Applewhite)

"HE LIT THE FLAME"

Police said four people died during the chaos - one from gunshot wounds and three from medical emergencies - and 52 people were arrested.

Some besieged the House of Representatives chamber while lawmakers were inside, banging on its doors and forcing the suspension of the certification debate. Security officers piled furniture against the chamber's door and drew their pistols before helping lawmakers and others escape.

The mayhem unfolded after the president - who before the election refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost - addressed thousands of supporters near the White House and told them to march to the Capitol to express their anger at the voting process.

He told his supporters to pressure their elected officials to reject the results, urging them "to fight".

READ: China goes online to mock 'beautiful sight' of US Capitol chaos

READ: China draws comparison between storming of US Capitol, Hong Kong protests

Vice President Mike Pence is hugged at the conclusion of the count of electoral votes in the House Chamber during a reconvening of a joint session of Congress on Jan 07, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images/WinMcNamee)

Some prominent Republicans in Congress strongly criticised Trump, putting the blame for the day’s violence squarely on his shoulders.

"There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame," House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney said on Twitter.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a leading conservative from Arkansas, called on Trump to accept his election loss and "quit misleading the American people and repudiate mob violence".

Source: AGENCIES/kg

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