Polling stations opened in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday for a presidential election that is meant to lead to the country’s first democratic transfer of power, according to a Reuters witness in the city of Goma.
Due to the time difference, voting is due to start an hour later in western parts of the Central African country, reports Reuters.
The last polls are scheduled to close at 1700 (1600 GMT), although voting will continue for those still in line.
President Joseph Kabila and his son were seen this morning at central Gombe Institute polling station casting their votes.
Xinhua reports that voters are casting their ballots in an election vital to the future of the central African country.
The election, which comes after repeated delays, will produce a successor to President Joseph Kabila and is deemed decisive for a peaceful transfer of power.
However, there is concern over the credibility of the election following some organizational problems and a government decision to exclude some 1 million voters due to a deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the east.
People in the Democratic Republic of Congo have begun voting in a presidential election that could bring the troubled country’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power.
Some unrest is feared after a last-minute decision to bar an estimated one million people from voting because of a deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the country’s east.
The decision has been widely criticised as threatening the credibility of the election.
Two main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, are challenging President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor, former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is under sanctions from the European Union.
Amid rainy weather in the capital, Kinshasa, Kabila and Shadary voted at the central Gombe Institute polling station.
“My message today to my compatriots is to come and vote for their candidates and brave the rain,” said Kabila.
Shadary called for “peace and calm”, adding: “I am very confident in victory because the Congolese people will trust me, I campaigned all over the country.”
DR Congo’s 40 million registered voters are using electronic voting machines with touch screens for the first time amid opposition concerns that the results could be manipulated.