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Joe Biden wins presidential race in divided US

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Joe Biden has captured the US presidency as voters narrowly rebuffed Donald Trump’s tumultuous leadership and embraced Biden’s promise to fight the coronavirus pandemic and fix the economy in a divided nation.

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Winning the battleground state of Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes gave Biden more than the 270 he needed on Saturday.

It prompted all major TV networks to declare the former vice president the winner after four days of nail-biting suspense following Tuesday’s election.

“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,” Biden said on Twitter.

Congratulations poured in from leaders around the world, including conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The reactions from global leaders make it hard for Trump to push his repeated claims, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.

Trump, who was golfing when the networks made their calls for his rival, immediately accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner”.

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

Trump has filed a raft of lawsuits to challenge the results but election officials in states across the country say there has been no evidence of significant fraud, and legal experts say Trump’s efforts are unlikely to succeed.

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

Biden’s running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris, tweeted a video of her congratulating Biden: “We did it Joe!”

Harris will be the first woman, the first African-American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president.

Cheers and applause was heard in neighbourhoods around Washington DC, with people emerging onto balconies, yelling, honking their horns and banging pots.

The wave of noise built as more people learned of the news. Some were in tears. Music began to play and “We are the Champions” blared.

In the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, people clapped, and erupted in screams of joy as the news spread.

Some residents danced on a building’s fire escape cheering, while others screamed “yes!” as they passed by.

In a reminder of the divided state of the country, however, pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” demonstrators gathered at state capitol buildings in Lansing, Michigan, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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 Trump 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.

Biden was expected to address the nation after 8pm on Saturday Eastern Time from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has congratulated Biden for his success in clinching the US presidential election, wishing him every success for his term in office.

“The President-elect has been a great friend of Australia over many years, including when he visited Australia in 2016,” the prime minister said in a statement on Sunday.

“The Australia-US Alliance is enduring and built on shared democratic values such as the international rule of law, respect for human rights and equality, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression and diversity of opinion.”

He noted Australia and the US will celebrate 70 years since the signing of the ANZUS Treaty, which he described as “the foundation of our security alliance”.

He said the world faces many challenges, including managing the COVID-19 pandemic, on both a health and economic front, while ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and peace and stability.

“American leadership is indispensable to meeting these challenges and upholding the rules, norms and standards of our international community,” Morrison said.

He said he looked forward to working with President-elect Biden and his administration to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, while developing new technologies to reduce global emissions to practically confront the challenge of climate change.

Morrison also extend his congratulations to Kamala Harris on her election as Vice President of the United States.

He also thanked President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for their contribution to the Australia-US relationship.

“Australia has enjoyed a strong working relationship with the current administration, one that has seen the strength of our alliance continue to grow and deepen,” Morrison said.

“We will continue to work closely with President Trump and his administration in the transition period between now and 20 January.”

– Reuters/AAP

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