Kabila's Chosen Successor Lags in Congo Presidential Poll

(Bloomberg) -- Voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo prefer two opposition candidates over the ruling party’s entrant in presidential elections set to take place in December, according to an opinion poll.

More than a third of the electorate back Union for Democracy and Social Progress leader Felix Tshisekedi in the vote, while 17 percent favor Union for the Congolese Nation head Vital Kamerhe, a survey published Tuesday by the New York-based Congo Research Group showed. Tshisekedi’s support almost doubled from 19 percent in a previous poll in July, after rival contenders Jean-Pierre Bemba and Moise Katumbi were excluded from the race, it said.

President Joseph Kabila’s anointed successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary of the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy, has the support of 16 percent of the population, it said.

Kabila himself polled at 9 percent in July, when there was still widespread speculation he’d seek to run again despite being forbidden from seeking a third term by Congo’s constitution. Kabila, in power since 2001, won the last two elections in 2006 and 2011.

CandidateSupport
Felix Tshisekedi (O)36%
Vital Kamerhe (O)17%
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (FCC)16%
Martin Fayulu (O)8%
Freddy Matungulu (O)5%

NOTE: (O) = opposition; (FCC) = ruling coalition

The poll was conducted in the first two weeks of October by the CRG and the Congo-based Bureau d’Études, de Recherches, et de Consulting International. The sample size was 1,179 people across all of Congo’s 26 provinces, and the margin of error was plus/minus three percentage points, the group said.

Congo is the world’s main source of cobalt and Africa’s biggest copper producer. It hasn’t had a peaceful or democratic transfer of power since it gained independence in 1960.