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  • A Congolese policeman and a worker of Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) prepare a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 29, 2018.

    A Congolese policeman and a worker of Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) prepare a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 29, 2018. | Photo: Reuters file.

Published 30 December 2018

The run-up to the elections in the DRC has been marked by violent clashes between government forces and opposition groups.

On Sunday, polls opened for general elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) marked by the absence of President Joseph Kabila who has been in power since 2001 and anti-government protests, which have claimed the lives of dozens of people.

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Emmanuel Ramzy Shadary, the candidate for the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Kabila’s handpicked successor, is confident he will win the vote, “Tomorrow I will be president,” Shadary told Reuters.

Recent data show Martin Fayulu former Exxon Mobil Manager and the candidate for the Engagement for Citizenship and Development Party ahead by 47 percent, followed by Felix Tshisekedi from the Union for Democracy and Social Progress Party with 24 percent, and Shadary with 19 percent of the vote, according to a poll conducted by New York University’s Congo Research Group.

The run-up to the election has been marked by violent clashes between government forces and the opposition as well as controversial measures taken by the government to prepare and schedule the poll.

This is reflected in an opposition bloc’s general strike held on Friday to demonstrate against the Kabila administration’s move to postpone elections until March 2019 in the areas Beni, Butembo, and Yumbi on grounds that it was a necessary precaution to protect voters from Ebola outbreaks and militia violence.

Kabila is not participating in the upcoming Dec. 23 elections.

These elections have been delayed since 2016 when the president’s mandate originally expired.

Joseph Kabila became president in 2001 after his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila (the third constitutional president) was killed.

Protests demanding the president’s exit from office have claimed the lives of dozens of Congolese in the campaign trail. There is a sense in the DRC that delaying the elections was a move to give Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, Kabila’s handpicked favorite the opportunity to win.

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