Voting in Democratic Republic of Congo's long-anticipated presidential election got off to a shaky start on Sunday December 30th due to torrential rain in the capital, long delays at some polling stations and broken-down machines, as reported by Reuters.
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. Some Congolese observers have said voting materials did not reach some polling stations in time.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, in power since his father's assassination in 2001, is due to step down after the vote in the first democratic transition for a country plagued by authoritarian rule, coups and civil wars since independence from Belgium in 1960. Kabila voted early in the morning in the capital Kinshasa.
Two main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, are challenging President Joseph Kabila's preferred successor, the European Union-sanctioned former Interior Minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. "My only concern is that we have this very heavy rain and probably voter turnout might be low but hopefully the skies will clear and the voters will turn out in numbers," Kabila told reporters.
Three opposition strongholds will see no casting of ballots at all after the authorities cancelled the vote there, citing health risks from an ongoing Ebola outbreak and ethnic violence.