, BRAZZAVILLE, June 7 – Congo’s President Denis Sassou-Nguesso told a rally of thousands of supporters in Brazzaville on Saturday that he would run for re-election in the July 12 presidential poll.
"Before the people gathered here, before the nation, we say that we have listened to our people, we have listened to our inner voice and we have decided to declare our candidacy for the presidential election of July 2009," he said.
"We have come here to tell you that we are declaring our candidacy in response to your requests and also because the willingness that we have to serve our people remains intact," he added.
Sassou Nguesso said he would launch his campaign on June 26.
The president joins 10 other candidates who have already entered the race.
According to the country’s election rules, presidential hopefuls have until June 12 to file their papers and the electoral campaign itself runs for two weeks from June 26.
Sassou-Nguesso, a career soldier, first took power as head of state in 1979 by deposing president Joachim Yhombi-Opango.
He ruled for 13 years until the spirit of democratisation sweeping through Africa produced a national referendum that ushered in multi-party politics in 1992. He was defeated in the subsequent presidential elections.
He seized power again in 1997, leading an army uprising after having returned from three years’ exile in Paris.
He was confirmed as president in highly criticised elections in 2002.