The polling stations opened today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) so that more than 39 million people can vote in a general election in which the successor of the president, Joseph Kabila, will be elected.
The polling stations opened at 06:00 local time (05:00 GMT) and are scheduled to close at 6:00 pm local time (17:00 GMT).
The Congolese will vote for their national and provincial deputies and their president in the 75,781 authorized schools in the country, except in the Beni and Butembo districts, in the province of North Kibu (northeast), and Yumbi, in the province of Mai- Ndombe (west).
The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) postponed in those three territories, which gather more than 1.2 million voters, the elections until March for insecurity and the Ebola outbreak that has already caused 360 deaths in North Kivu, as well as for the ethnic violence that has recently affected Yumbi.
"The long-awaited day has finally arrived, the history of the DRC will be written according to the choices we make today, so that our voices count, whether it rains or does not rain, let's vote in peace! Long live democracy! Long live the Democratic Republic of the Congo! ", Said the CENI in the official account of the social network Twitter.
This is the first election in 17 years in which Kabila is not a candidate, after complying with the constitutional limit of two terms and presenting in his place Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former deputy prime minister and interior minister with a controversial political career and stained by sanctions of the European Union.
Against him, two great coalitions, Direccion al Cambio (CACH), led by the president of the largest opposition party, Felix Tshisekedi, are running; and Lamuka ("Awake", in Lingala), headed by the national deputy Martin Fayulu.
The elections were planned for December 2016, when the second-and last-mandate of Kabila, which governs since 2001, expired, but the CENI has postponed them for "technical problems" since then.
The last postponement occurred last week, delayed from December 23 to 30.
The DRC aspires in these elections to achieve the first peaceful transition of power in its history after independence from Belgium in 1960.