Despite protests from the opposition, presidential elections in Congo, Sunday, was relatively peaceful as a result of some 17 000 security personnel ordered to patrol the length and breath of the country. Outgoing President Denis Sassou N’Guesso is tipped to win the elections as the country’s electoral commission prepares to announce the results anytime from Monday evening. According to the main opposition, “90 per cent” of the country’s electorate did not go to the polls. The government has responded…
Sunday, Congolese went to the polls to elect a new president. The sixty six year old outgoing President Denis Sassou N’Guesso, who has ruled for about 25 years as head of state, is seeking another seven year term as president. He is expected to extend his rule to at least 32 years.
Raymond Mboulou, Minister of Territorial Administration told the AFP, Monday, that “counting of ballots have ended (…) we are yet to finalise the merging of results”. According to the Minister, the results could be released today, tomorrow or Wednesday, as the law does not provide a specifed timeframe. The Territorial administration and the Electoral Commission, both in charge of organising the elections, have been accused of conniving to rig.
Until the very last day of the presidential campaign, Congolese opposition called for the postponement of elections, but the elections went ahead as scheduled. Besides claiming that the polls were “Rigged” before votes were cast, the opposition also expressed fears of ballot box stuffing and condemned uncontrolled votes “inflated at will”, attribution of electoral cards to “deceased” voters, “non-existent voters” as well as “minors” and “foreigners” issued with voter cards. 2.2 million people (out of 3.6 million Congolese resident in the country) were epected to vote.
Denis Sassou N’Guesso confident
Six of the 13 candidates, including former finance minister, Mathieu Dzone of the Alliance for Democracy (ARD) and Romain Guy Kinfoussia of the Alliance for a New Republic (ANR), joined forces, last week, to denounce the election results ahead of the official announcement. According to them, Denis Sassou N’Guesso paid off the National Electoral Commission (CONEL).
Following an announcement made by the opposition Sunday claiming that “90 per cent” of the 2.2 million registered voters had abstained from the electoral process, government spokesman, Mr. Alain Akouala Atipault responded by saying that the opposition’s claims are “preposterous, inexact and incoherent” although he failed to give any figures himself. According to Mr. Atipault, more votes were recorded in rural areas compared to a lower election turn out in urban centres.
In the streets of Brazzaville, numerous posters bearing the effigy of the head of state proves the president’s determination to hold on to power. “No doubts, we will win,” Denis Sassou Nguesso assured his supporters in his last campaign message. The Congolese president, during the presidential campaign, took advantage of a divided opposition and encouraged the defections of: Jacques-Joachim Yhombi Opango (president from ’77 to ’79 and PM from juin 93 – august 96), Bernard Kolelas (PM in ’97), David Charles Ganao (PM ’96-’97) and Théophile Obenga, an academic. Denis Sassou Nguesso stands to gain from their defections.
An election under high surveillance
The broken opposition, however, intent on reducing the level of participation so as to prove their influence, called on Congolese electorate not to go to the polls. The Pan African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), the main opposition party, which nominated the former Prime Minister Edouard Poungui Angel as its leader and which was not validated to take part in the elections by the Constitutional Court, declared Sunday “a national day of mourning.”