After more than two years of delay, millions of voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo will today head to the polls to choose a successor to
The country faces what could be its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. The DRC has not had a peaceful transition since independence and has faced civil strife intermittently since then.
Aside from political turmoil, the country is also grappling with a series of Ebola outbreaks, with the most recent considered the worst for the country.
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Kabila took office in 2001 after the death of his father President Laurent-Desire Kabila. He was supposed to leave office in December 2016 after the end of his second and final term, but elections were postponed over lack of resources to conduct a free, fair and credible poll.
The country descended into chaos after his refusal to step down. In August, he announced that he will not run for a third term and later chose Emmanuel Shadary, a former interior minister as his successor.
Ahead of the election on Sunday, protests have been held in several areas across the country. Authorities recently postponed the December 23 election date to December 30 after a fire in the capital, Kinshasa that destroyed election materials. There have also been deadly protests in cities such as Beni and Butembo after authorities announced that voting in those two cities would be postponed until March 2019 because of the threat of the deadly Ebola virus.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country will vote on Sunday, with results announced on January 15 and the inauguration of a new president three days later. This has angered opposition figures who believe that the “regime wants to extend its stay in power to continue its plundering.”
In all, 21 candidates will be competing for the country’s top position. They would have to deal with issues of corruption, impunity and inequality that has seen the resource-rich country ranked 156 out of 176 by Transparency International in 2016.
Here are the front-runners in the long-awaited polls: