KINSHASA (Reuters) - Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu has become the clear favourite to win 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 percent support. He was ahead of the former frontrunner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, on 23 percent, and the ruling party's Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary on 18 percent.
"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.
(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Mark Heinrich)