Congo voted on Sunday under a nationwide media blackout in a tense ballot expected to see President Denis Sassou Nguesso prolong his 32-year rule over the oil-rich but impoverished nation. Interior Minister Raymond Mboulou ordered telecoms firms to block all telephone, Internet and SMS services for 48 hours due to “reasons of security and national safety”. In what appeared to be an isolated incident, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of around 200 opposition supporters at a polling station in Brazzaville. Officers hit some of the crowd with clubs and took away one person after supporters of opposition candidate Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas demanded officials let them into a polling station to observe the counting. Polls closed at 1700 GMT and results are expected from Tuesday.
“Things are going calmly,” said Eric Katolo, head of an 18-person observer mission from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), before voting ended.
In Brazzaville’s northern Ouenze neighbourhood, where support for the president is high, locals earlier said they wanted “stability” and “peace”, two watchwords of Sassou Nguesso’s re-election campaign.