The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been casting their ballots in an historic election – the first free vote in more than 40 years. Current President Joseph Kabila is tipped to win – if he does, he would become the first ever democratically elected leader since independence.
His main rival is Jean-Pierre Bemba. A former warlord, he is now one of four vice presidents in the transistional government. There are 32 presidential hopefuls to choose from and some 9000 candidates running for parliament. Despite fears of violence polling across the vast nation does appear to have been orderly. The world’s largest ever UN peacekeeping force has been deployed across the country to make sure the vote is free and fair. Results are expected in about three weeks. But there have already been complaints about irregularities. That has raised fears that the election many hoped would bring an end to years of war may in fact just open a new chapter of turmoil and violence.