For the first time in over fifty-years, the Democratic Republic Congo is set to take the first step in making a peaceful political transition.
Today’s election marks the end of the 17-year rule of President Joseph Kabila who came to power at age twenty-nine making him the world’s youngest leader. His rise to power came on the back of the assassination of his father in 2001.
The Congolese electoral race featuring twenty-one candidates all jostling for the position of president will be held today, two years after they were first scheduled to be held. Among them are the Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the preferred successor of Joseph Kabila, Felix Tshisekedi, president of Congo’s largest opposition party and Martin Fayulu, the joint candidate of an opposition coalition.
Among the milestones reached in this election is the employment of electronic voting machines for the first time in the East African country. Amidst the plethora of complaints of their vulnerability to rigging, the Congolese Electoral body have commissioned 100,000 South-Korean-made voting machines to be used in the election process. According to the incumbent president, they are a cheaper and more efficient means of holding the election.
However, citizens in some regions of the North Kivu and Bandundu provinces of the country will have to wait until March 2019 to exercise their constitutional mandate. In areas like Beni and Butembo the elections have been put on hold due to the onslaught of the Ebola virus which has claimed over 330 lives whilst ethnic violence has made the election in the Yumbi area unfeasible.
For the people of Congo, a free and fair election will be the beginning of a new era of progressive development. And in the words of incumbent President Joseph Kabila, “the sky is the limit”.
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