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 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.
Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso will seek to extend his long years of rule in polls on Sunday, falling back on his stranglehold over national institutions and his image as a stabilizing force to fend off festering discontent. His re-election, which analysts say is all but assured, would mark a setback for efforts to foster democratic transition in African countries with long-ruling leaders. Sassou Nguesso pushed through changes to the constitution in a referendum last September, altering the term and age limits that would have barred the 72-year-old from standing for another five-year mandate.
The Republic of Congo heads to a presidential election next Sunday amid deepening distrust as President Denis Sassou N’guesso seeks to extend his already three decades in power. The country’s electoral campaign is in full swing, but the main opposition coalition, the IDC-Frocad, said authorities are preventing the candidates from campaigning. IDC-Frocad Spokeperson Guy Romain Kinfoussia said police recently threw tear gas into a meeting held by a candidate of the opposition. And another candidate was refused the right to hold a meeting in a public square. Nine candidates are running, including N’Guesso, already in power for 30 years.
Congo Republic’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso said on Tuesday that he would call an election sometime in the first quarter of next year, several months ahead of schedule. Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled Congo for 31 of the last 36 years, is widely expected to seek a third consecutive mandate in 2016 after winning an October referendum on changes to the constitution that legalise his candidacy. He did not mention his intentions in the Tuesday speech before parliament. “The council of ministers will call on the electoral body earlier than expected so that the presidential election can take place during the first quarter of 2016,” President Sassou Nguesso told lawmakers.
Congo: 10% or 70% turnout? No matter, as Congo officials say over 90% backed president-for-life vote | Mail & Guardian
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.
A referendum held in Congo Republic to decide whether the president can legally stand for a third consecutive term should be canceled due to low turnout, a senior opposition leader said on Monday. An opposition boycott of Sunday’s plebiscite means the country’s veteran ruler, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, is likely to have won voters’ support, paving the way for him to run in an election next year and potentially extend his decades-long rule over the oil-producing central African country. “It (the turnout) totally discredits the referendum. Either they annul it or else he will impose a dictatorship and the Congolese will not accept it,” said opposition leader Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, secretary of the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy party. “The smart thing would be to annul the referendum,” he told Reuters by telephone.
Turnout in a referendum in Congo on Sunday was reduced to a trickle in the capital after the opposition asked voters to boycott the poll on whether the president can legally stand for a third consecutive term in an election due next year. President Denis Sassou Nguesso, 71, is the latest long-serving African president to try to prolong his grip on power by changing the constitution. Several other such efforts have provoked violence, and four died in Congo Republic last week when security forces opened fire on protesters. In some parts of the capital, the only voters were members of the security forces, witnesses said. There was no information on turnout in other parts of the country. Polling booths closed at 6 p.m. (12:00 p.m. ET) and vote counting began.
Congo Republic’s government announced on Tuesday it would hold a referendum this month on constitutional change, in a move that could allow veteran President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his decades-long rule. The 71-year-old former military commander has ruled Congo Republic, an oil producer, for all but five years since 1979. He won his previous terms in disputed elections in 2002 and 2009. While Sassou Nguesso has not officially declared his candidacy for the June 2016 presidential election, he is widely expected to seek a third term. The constitution of 2002 limits the number of terms to two and excludes candidates over 70.
The government of the Republic of Congo has called a referendum October 25 on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third term. The proposed amendment, announced Monday after a cabinet meeting, also would abolish an upper age limit of 70 for presidential candidates. President Sassou Nguesso is 72 and is barred by the current constitution from seeking another term. Last month, the president announced he was planning the referendum, a move that brought thousands of people out to demonstrate in the capital, Brazzaville.
The party of President Denis Sassou Nguesso dominated as expected a first-round parliamentary election in the oil-exporting Central African state of Congo Republic, results showed on Friday, although the vote was widely shunned. Opposition parties complained ahead of the elections that Nguesso’s Congolese Workers’ Party (PCT) had privileged access to state media in a country where past votes have been tainted with accusations of fraud. Interior Minister Zephirin Mboulou acknowledged turnout had been weak but gave no official figure. The Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) estimated that only 15 percent of the some two million eligible voters turned out.
The Congolese Labour Party (PCT) of President Denis Sassou Nguesso reaffirmed its dominance in the first round of legislative elections in results announced Friday by the interior ministry. The PCT took 57 out of the 69 seats that were won outright in last Sunday’s first-round vote. Another 10 were won by the parties allied to the PCT; just one was taken by the opposition, while another went to an independent candidate. The other places in the 135-seat parliament will be decided in a second round scheduled for August 5.
Voters in the oil-exporting Central African state of Congo Republic have turned out to elect a new parliament, with the ruling party of President Denis Sassou Nguesso and its allies seen holding the majority. Opposition parties have complained about a lack of access to state media during campaigning, and voter turnout was thin at a number of polling stations in the capital Brazzaville, some of which stayed open up to two hours late during the voting on Sunday. The ruling Congolese Workers’ Party (PCT) and a cluster of allied parties control all but a dozen of the nearly 140 seats in the lower house after the opposition boycotted the last poll in 2007, accusing the government of vote rigging.
Congolese voters went to the polls on Sunday for the first round of legislative elections expected to maintain an overwhelming majority for allies of longtime President Denis Sassou Nguesso. The oil-rich central African country has been open to multiparty politics since 1991 but wracked by two civil wars in which Sassou Nguesso, an army colonel who first came to power in 1979, played a prominent role. Voting got off to a late start in some parts of Brazzaville, but Sassou Nguesso, who cast his vote at midday near the presidential palace, sought to reassure the nation that everything was proceeding smoothly. “The instructions I had given for the elections to take place in peace, transparency, for them to be free, fair and credible, have for the most part been followed,” he said.