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Republic of the Congo to hold presidential elections


Republic of the Congo to hold presidential elections

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Photo: Reuters

The Republic of Congo will elect its next president today.

Incumbent President Denis Sassou N’guesso will run for a fourth term against six other candidates. Notably, the largest opposition party, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS) is boycotting this election, citing a lack of democratic process. Leaders of UPADS requested measures to improve the electoral procedure, but the election was scheduled to elude any changes before polling. The clear front-runner, N’guesso first rose to power in 1979 as leader of the then one-party government. After losing a 1992 election he again rose to power in 1997 as a militia leader during the country’s four-month civil war, and he has remained president since.

Although Congo-Brazzaville is notionally a democracy, N’guesso’s 36 years in office and rigid control of the electoral system have led opposition leaders to denounce the country as a police state. In 2016, media blackouts during the election as well as the sentencing of opposition leaders to hard labour all but eliminated N’guesso’s political opposition. Today’s vote is almost ceremonial, and if re-elected N’guesso’s presidency will reinforce a trend in many sub-Saharan African countries by which calls for change are stymied by leaders clinging to power.

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