Voters went to the polls in legislative elections in the oil-rich Republic of Congo on Sunday, the first since a violence-marred presidential poll last year which returned Denis Sassou Nguesso to power. The first round of polling to elect National Assembly members as well as local councils is taking place with the opposition calling foul, accusing the ruling Congolese Labour Party (PCT) of giving its candidates an unfair advantage. Electoral officials said voting was nevertheless proceeding calmly although some polling stations opened more than a hour late because of a delay in receiving voting materials.
Henri Bouka, head of the National Election Commission (CNEI), said that “for the moment all is going well” but that voter turnout so far was low. “We hope that as the day goes on we will see a greater number of voters,” he added.
However, an incident was reported in the northern town of Kelle where opposition protesters briefly took away the ballot boxes, a local resident who gave his name only as Antoine told AFP by phone.
“The ballot boxes have been returned after a lot of negotiation,” he said, adding that one protester was beaten up by police but that his injuries were not life-threatening.