Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.
The three leading candidates vying to succeed DRC’s President Joseph Kabila are opposition leaders Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi. Kabila’s preferred successor is former interior minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. The DRC’s election was initially supposed to take place in 2016.
According to Associated Press, on Sunday election day, both Kabila and Shadary called for "peace and calm," and expressed confidence at Shadary scooping the vote. Fayulu is considered the leading opposition candidate.
Pope Francis prays for Congo
Pope Francis has led the faithful in prayer for “all those suffering in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on account of violence and of Ebola.” He offered the prayer during the weekly recitation of the Angelus at St Peter’s Square on Sunday.
Church working to resolve incidents and give timely information during the counting
On Sunday, Election Day, the Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) said it was in constant contact with relevant election stakeholders with a view to finding solutions to reported election incidents. It also said its Election Observation Mission is committed to observing all operations comprehensively by providing timely, impartial and objective reports and recommendations. To this end, CENCO pledged to issue regular press releases on the counting process throughout Monday, 31 December 2018.
CENCO, which is the country’s Episcopal Conference, has through its Justice and Peace wing deployed 1,026 long-term observers and 40,000 short-term observers across the country.
Election Challenges – Ebola-affected areas
An estimated one million people have been barred from voting because of a deadly Ebola virus outbreak in some parts of the country. Voting in the Ebola-affected cities of Beni and Butembo has been delayed until March, two months after Congo's new leader will have been inaugurated.
Church leaders hope and pray for peace
The hope is that this time around, the DRC’s election results will not lead to chaos and violence but rather usher-in a peaceful, democratic transfer of power.
Earlier this week, Catholic and Protestant Churches of Kinshasa gathered to pray for the country in ecumenical worship attended by citizens and some of the presidential candidates and stakeholders.
At this ecumenical gathering, The Archbishop of Kinshasa, Fridolin Ambongo and President of the Church of Christ in Congo, Dr André Bokundoa, both expressed concern at the climate of violence in which the election was unfolding. They nevertheless expressed confidence that the vote would pass in peace.