By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Voting commenced on Wednesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election, an exercise characterized by lengthy delays at polling stations.
A BBC report says voters waited in long queues at many polling stations in the capital, Kinshasa, and other cities as they opened about two hours late.
Ballot papers arrived at the last minute in an election marred by logistical challenges.
Incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi is slogging it out with 18 candidates.
They include, wealthy mining magnate Moïse Katumbi and former oil executive Martin Fayulu, who believes that he won the last election in 2018, the result of which was questioned by several international observers.
The UN, Egypt and neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville assisted in delivering election material to remote areas.
About 44 million people are registered to vote, following a campaign dominated by worsening insecurity in the mineral-rich east African country.
A polling station at a school was ransacked in the eastern town of Bunia, but it is unclear who was behind it.
For the first time, Congolese nationals living in five other countries – including South Africa and former colonial power Belgium will be able to cast their ballots.
Winner will be the candidate with the most votes as before.
The large number of those challenging President Tshisekedi could work to his advantage as the opposition seems divided.
Voters are also choosing parliamentary, provincial and municipal representatives – with about 100,000 candidates.
There are more than 175,000 polling booths. The electoral commission, with the help of UN peacekeepers, began delivering voting material in far-flung areas about two months ago because of the poor transport network.