Congo Opposition Contender Would Win Fair Vote, Poll Shows

(Bloomberg) -- An opposition candidate in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the clear favorite to win Sunday’s presidential election if the long-awaited vote is free and fair, according to an opinion poll.

Martin Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil Corp. manager who heads an opposition alliance, had the support of 47 percent of those surveyed, according to results published Friday by New York University’s Congo Research Group.

Twenty-four percent backed Felix Tshisekedi, who heads Congo’s largest opposition party, while Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister nominated by outgoing President Joseph Kabila as his successor, trailed with 19 percent.

“This is a remarkable rise in popularity for a politician who was little known outside of Kinshasa a year ago,” CRG said of Fayulu in a statement. If the election is free and fair, an opposition candidate “would be almost certain to win the presidency,” it said, adding that 53 percent of respondents indicated they wouldn’t accept the declaration of Shadary as winner.

Congo’s presidential and parliamentary elections are being held two years late and could prompt the central African nation’s first transfer of power through the ballot box since independence in 1960. The telephone survey of about 2,900 people was conducted for CRG by the Congo-based Bureau d’Études, de Recherches, et de Consulting International and Ipsos South Africa.

A CRG poll in late October found just 8 percent of respondents intending to vote for Fayulu while 36 percent preferred Tshisekedi and 16 percent Shadary. That survey was conducted before the campaign began and the two opposition tickets were finalized, with opposition heavyweights Moise Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba backing Fayulu and Vital Kamerhe supporting Tshisekedi.

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