People in Congo have begun voting in a long-delayed presidential election that could bring the troubled country’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power.

Some unrest is feared in the election after a last-minute decision to bar an estimated 1 million people from voting because of a deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the country’s east. The decision has been widely criticized as threatening the credibility of the election.

Two main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, are challenging President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor, former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is under sanctions from the European Union.

Amid rainy weather in the capital, Kinshasa, Kabila and Shadary voted at the central Gombe Institute polling station.

“My message today to my compatriots is to come and vote for their candidates and brave the rain,” said Kabila, after voting.

Shadary called for “peace and calm,” adding “I am very confident in victory because the Congolese people will trust me, I campaigned all over the country.”

Congo’s 40 million registered voters are using electronic voting machines with touch screens for the first time amid opposition concerns that the results could be manipulated. Some Congolese observers have said voting materials didn’t reach some polling stations in time.

At stake is a country rich in minerals including those crucial to the world’s smartphones and electric cars, and yet Congo remains desperately underdeveloped. Corruption and insecurity are widespread.

Ruling party presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary casts his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Ruling party presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary casts his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese election officials get the voting machine ready before voting starts Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese election officials get the voting machine ready before voting starts Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Election observers sit in a polling stating as voters cast their vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Election observers sit in a polling stating as voters cast their vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Ruling party presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary casts his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Ruling party presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary casts his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila casts his vote for Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila casts his vote for Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila casts his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. Forty million voters are registered for a presidential race plagued by years of delay and persistent rumors of lack of preparation. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila casts his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. Forty million voters are registered for a presidential race plagued by years of delay and persistent rumors of lack of preparation. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila gets his finger inked after casting his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila gets his finger inked after casting his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, center, leaves the polling station after casting his vote Sunday Dec. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, center, leaves the polling station after casting his vote Sunday Dec. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, center, leaves the polling station after casting his vote Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, center, leaves the polling station after casting his vote Sunday, Dec. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, center, arrives to cast his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, center, arrives to cast his vote Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 in Kinshasa, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Source: The Associated Press