Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) begins a month-long election campaign on Sunday with incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi facing a crowded field of 25 candidates amid a tense political climate and fighting in the east of the country.
Some 44 million registered voters, out of a population of almost 100 million, will elect a president on 20 December.
They will also be electing members of the national parliament and of regional assemblies in DRC’s 26 provinces, as well as local councillors.
The challenges are enormous. As the world's largest producer of battery material cobalt and a major copper producer, Congo has vast resources, but conflict and corruption are endemic.
A "pre-campaign" has been underway for a while, with President Felix Tshisekedi, who is seeking a second term, attending numerous public events while his allies vaunt his record.
With the launch of the official campaign, candidates will be allowed to hold big rallies and give media interviews and hand out flyers.
Tshisekedi is holding a rally on Sunday at the Martyrs stadium in Kinshasa while one of his main challengers, Martin Fayulu, addresses a rally in the nearby province of Bandundu, his fiefdom.
"There is a political will to stick to the electoral calendar, but there are doubts about the technical feasibility," said Tresor Kibangula, a political analyst at the Ebuteli research institute.
One round of voting favours incumbent
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