Congo opposition leader Fayulu takes clear lead ahead of Sunday’s election

Martin Fayulu
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Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu has become the clear favourite to win the Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-delayed election on Sunday, with the government-backed candidate trailing in third place, according to a new poll.

Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil manager, was little known when he was picked as the joint candidate of an opposition coalition in November, but extensive campaigning, including in Ebola-hit eastern regions, has since boosted his profile.

The latest election poll by a New York-based research group showed Fayulu leapfrogging from third place in October to the top spot with 44% support.

He was ahead of the former frontrunner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, on 23%, and the ruling party’s Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary on 18%.

“The polls reveal an electorate eager for change. A large majority supports the opposition,” Congo Research Group (CRG),which commissioned the polling on which the survey was based, said in a statement.

“Fayulu … is the clear favourite to win elections if they are free and fair,” it said in a statement. The opposition has repeatedly expressed concern over the authorities’ handling of the election, meant to bring about the first democratic transition of power in the vast, mineral-rich Central African country.