Congo strongman Sassou Nguesso wins third term: official

March 24, 2016 8:37 am
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Incumbent Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso (C) leaves a polling station in Brazaville, after casting his ballot, on March 20, 2016, during the presidential election/AFP
Incumbent Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso (C) leaves a polling station in Brazaville, after casting his ballot, on March 20, 2016, during the presidential election/AFP

, BRAZZAVILLE, Congo, Mar 24 – Congo strongman Denis Sassou Nguesso has extended his 32 years in power, winning presidential elections in the first round with 60 percent of the vote, the interior minister said Thursday.

Interior minister Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou announced the results on national television at 3:30am (0230 GMT) following a tense weekend poll held under a communications blackout.

Overview
  • Interior minister Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou announced the results on national television at 3:30am (0230 GMT) following a tense weekend poll held under a communications blackout.
  • Oil- and timber-rich Congo has been on edge since an October constitutional referendum that ended a two-term limit on presidential mandates, allowing the 72-year-old former paratrooper colonel to run for office again.
  • The long-serving leader has ruled the country for all but five years since 1979 - Sassou Nguesso was in exile in Paris from 1992 to 1997 - and is accused by critics of rampant corruption and nepotism and of stifling democracy.

The official count gave Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas 15 percent of the vote while General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko came in third with 14 percent.

Oil- and timber-rich Congo has been on edge since an October constitutional referendum that ended a two-term limit on presidential mandates, allowing the 72-year-old former paratrooper colonel to run for office again.

The long-serving leader has ruled the country for all but five years since 1979 – Sassou Nguesso was in exile in Paris from 1992 to 1997 – and is accused by critics of rampant corruption and nepotism and of stifling democracy.

Authorities imposed a communications blackout during the vote to prevent opposition candidates from publishing “illegal results”. A government source said they would remain suspended until after the official results were announced.

On Wednesday, the two opposition candidates rejected partial results released by the national electoral commission, which gave the country’s long-time ruler 67 percent of votes.

“How do you want us to accept such a result?” General Mokoko said, calling for a recount.

“I knew beforehand that the dice were loaded, but we had agreed to play the game,” said the general, a former ally of Sassou Nguesso who quit as his advisor on peace and security in February.

Kolelas’ spokesman Vivien Manangou said Sassou Nguesso’s reelection was part of a “massive fraud”, describing the results as “magic”.

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