Opposition candidates in Democratic Republic of Congo say they are being prevented from campaigning, despite assurances of a free, fair and credible election by president Joseph Kabila’s government.

Martin Fayulu, who leads one of two opposition coalitions contesting the December 23 presidential elections, said police blocked his Tuesday rally in Lubumbashi, the country’s second largest city.

“They made us follow an itinerary… (preventing us) from reaching the venue,” Fayulu said in a tweet.

The 62-year-old former oil executive and lawmaker is contesting against Kabila’s prefered successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, another coalition leading opposition candidate, Felix Tshisekedi, in a field of 21 presidential candidates.READ MORE: 20 men, 1 woman aiming to replace Kabila

One of Fayulu’s supporters is Moise Katumbi, a former governor whose power base is Lubumbashi, but who has been barred from contesting the elections.

Katumbi also tweeted on Tuesday, saying there cannot be a credible election without free and democratic campaigns.

Ce qui se passe en ce moment à #Lubumbashi est intolérable ! Gazage des militants de #Lamuka, arrestations arbitraires, dispersion de la foule venue en masse accueillir @MartinFayulu.
Une vraie élection, cela passe d’abord par une vraie campagne, libre et démocratique !

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The city, located in the southeastern province of Katanga, is also a Kabila stronghold. Shadary launched his elections campaign there on November 26.

High-stakes election

Voters on December 23 will choose a successor to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, who has constitutionally remained in power as caretaker leader even though his second and final elected term ended nearly two years ago.

At stake in the ballot is stewardship of mineral-rich country that has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The 47-year-old has been in power since January 2001, taking the helm after his father, president Laurent-Desire Kabila, was assassinated.