Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, one of the world’s longest-serving autocrats, won a third term Thursday, following an election denounced abroad as unfair and potentially destabilizing for Central Africa. Mr. Nguesso won 60% of the ballots in Sunday’s vote, triumphing against a divided field of eight opposition leaders, Interior Minister Raymond Zéphirin Mboulou said on the country’s state-owned television channel. That handed seven more years in office to the 72-year-old president, a former French-trained paratrooper turned military dictator who has led his oil-rich country since 1979, apart from a five-year hiatus in the 1990s. France, the U.S., and the European Union have all criticized the election as unfair. None of them sent observers. The EU said in a statement that there was a “foreseeable lack of independence and transparency in the elections.”
… Congo saw violent protests last year, when Mr. Nguesso modified his country’s constitution—which he helped write in the late 1990s—to allow him a third term.
This week, the local opposition has vowed to protest Thursday’s result. “It’s time to stop being afraid,” said opposition candidate Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, in a speech shortly before the results. “You have massively rejected he who is pretending to have won,” he added.
For nearly a week, the government in Republic of Congo has prepared for protests surrounding the election. It blocked Internet and cell service for almost all of the nation’s five million people. On Thursday, troops patrolled the streets of Brazzaville, the capital and the local private school popular with French diplomats was closed.
Full Article: Congo’s President Wins Third Term – WSJ.