Open Campaigns Kickoff In DR Congo Amid Fresh Fights

Open Campaigns Kickoff In DR Congo Amid Fresh Fights

Amidst tense political conflict and fighting in the eastern part of the country, 26 candidates are vying for the office of the president in the officially launched month-long election campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.

With confirmation from the country’s election managers 44 million registered voters, out of a population of almost 100 million, will elect a president on December 20.

A record of 25,832 candidates for the legislative elections, 44,110 for provincial bodies, and 31,234 for municipal councils across 2.3 million square kilometers

A “pre-campaign” has been underway for a while, with President Felix Tshisekedi, who is seeking a second term, attending numerous public events while his allies vaunt his record.

With the launch of the official campaign, big rallies, media interviews, giant posters, and handing out flyers will be allowed.

On opening day, Tshisekedi will hold a rally at the Martyrs Stadium in Kinshasa while one of his main challengers, Martin Fayulu, is addressing a rally in a nearby province.

Roughness by armed groups has been on for almost 30 years in the eastern region, which is experiencing a peak in crisis with the return to the scene of a former rebellion (the M23), supported by neighboring Rwanda, which has seized large swathes of North Kivu.

Due to the conflict, two territories in the province will not be able to vote normally, but if the provincial capital, Goma, were to fall itself, the whole process would be compromised.

“M23 will not take Goma,” insisted Tshisekedi, who says a return to calm is his priority, along with improving services and the economy, building roads, and respecting freedom of speech and the press.

The incumbent president is favored to win, particularly since there is only one round of voting, but representatives of five leading opposition groups met this week in South Africa to study the possibility of proposing a single candidate.

A coalition was formed, and a common program was adopted, but only by the emissaries of four candidates, as the Fayulu camp did not sign up for the project.

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