The real battle in a weekend referendum to enable Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his 31-year stay in office looks to have been over the turnout, with the opposition claiming only 10% came out to vote, while the government put the figure at seven times that. But no matter the percentage, more than 90% of people voting in the controversial referendum in the Republic of Congo approved the bid, according to official results announced on Tuesday. A total of 92.96% of voters approved the constitutional change, which has now been adopted, Interior Minister Raymond Mboulou said. The draft text of the new constitution has been adopted and will come into force as soon as it is put into effect by the president of the republic, he added. Official results showed turnout was high at 72.44%, though on Monday opposition leader Pascal Tsaty Mabiala had said only 10% of Congolese voted.
The opposition has also rejected the results. “From what we could see on the day of the vote, the announcement that turnout was more than 72 percent is extremely scandalous,” Clement Mierassa told AFP, branding the results a “fraud”.
Mierassa heads the Congolese Social Democratic Party and is a leading member of an alliance that had called for a boycott of Sunday’s referendum. According to reports by several AFP journalists in the capital Brazzaville, second city Pointe-Noire and several other areas of the central African country, people largely avoided voting offices.
… The referendum proposed two changes to the constitution, which currently disqualifies Sassou Nguesso from running for re-election in 2016 because it stipulates a maximum age of 70 for presidential candidates and limits the number of mandates to two.