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Congo's Candidates Begin Election Campaigning

Candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo's first free elections in over 40 years officially begin campaigning Thursday night. However, opposition supporters are threatening to sabotage the campaign leading up to July 30 presidential and parliamentary elections.

More than 30 presidential and nearly 10,000 parliamentary candidates can officially begin campaigning for the Democratic Republic of Congo's historic elections.

Candidates now have just one month left, before the country's first free elections in over 40 years.

However, with such vast distances to cover and chaotic conditions to operate in, most candidates began unofficial campaigns long ago.

Congo's polls are meant to draw a line under its five-year war, which divided the mineral-rich country, and killed some four million people, mostly from hunger and disease.

But the lead up to the polls has been tumultuous, with violence continuing in the east, many candidates trading insults, rather than debating policies and the opposition calling for a boycott.

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila, seen as a leading contender, is one who has been campaigning for some time.

Critics say he is abusing his authority by using state media to broadcast his trips live on TV. But diplomats say there is little that can be done.

Meanwhile, opposition supporters, who are planning wide-scale demonstrations for Friday's campaign launch, have also vowed to disrupt the campaign by pulling down any posters promoting one party or another.

After decades of dictatorship, war and chaos, successful elections would go a long way to offering millions living in the heart of Africa a fresh start.