General election campaign begins in Democratic Republic of Congo

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The general election campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC) is scheduled to commence on Monday amid a charged political atmosphere and ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country.
With 26 candidates vying for the presidency, the upcoming month-long campaign will culminate in the presidential election on December 20, where 44 million registered voters out of a nearly 100 million population will cast their ballots. Alongside the presidential race, voters will also select from tens of thousands of candidates for legislative and local bodies.

Notably, this election includes simultaneous polls for the presidency, the 500 members of the National Assembly, the elected members of the 26 provincial assemblies, and, for the first time under the new constitution, members of approximately 300 municipal councils.

A record 25,832 candidates have been registered for the legislative elections, 44,110 for provincial bodies and 31,234 for municipal councils, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).
The CENI faces the considerable logistical challenge of organizing voting across the country’s 2.3 million square kilometers with limited infrastructure. Despite the political resolve to adhere to the electoral schedule, experts are concerned about the technical feasibility of conducting the election smoothly.
Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country, particularly in North Kivu Province, presents a significant hurdle to the electoral process. Recent activities by the M23 group in the area have raised security concerns, potentially impacting voting in certain territories.
Incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi has emphasized his commitment to restoring calm and ensuring that the rebel group does not disrupt the electoral process by taking control of key areas, such the provincial capital Goma.
The official campaign launch is expected to see President Tshisekedi, who is seeking reelection, and other prominent candidates engaging in public events. With the start of the official campaign, candidates will engage in large-scale rallies, media appearances, and distribution of promotional materials to reach voters across the DRC.
Key opposition figures contesting the election include Martin Fayulu, a former 2018 presidential candidate; Moise Katumbi, a businessman and former governor of the Katanga region; Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with victims of sexual violence; and Adolphe Muzito and Matata Ponyo Mapon, both former prime ministers from 2008-2012 and 2012-2016, respectively.
Efforts to unite opposition forces behind a single candidate to challenge the incumbent president have also been underway, with a coalition forming and a common platform adopted, although full agreement and cohesion among opposition leaders is yet to be achieved.
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