Denis Sassou Nguesso
Until last Sunday, October 25, 2015 disputed referendum in the Republic of Congo, the oil-rich country’s constitution barred persons above 70 years from contesting presidential election and limits the number of terms to two.
Early this year, President of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso announced plans to amend article 57 and 58 of the constitution to allow him run for president for the third time and at an advanced age of 72.
Even though the announcement was greeted with strings of demonstrations leading to the dismissal of two of his Ministers in August for kicking against the move, the Nguesso-led government fixed October 25 for a referendum to scrap both the two-term limit for presidential candidates and the age cap.
The Minister of Interior of Congo, Raymond Mabalou, announced two days after the referendum that a total of 92.4 percent of the country’s population voted in the referendum to enable the ruthless dictator and President, Sassou Nguesso to run for office at an advanced age of 72 and for a controversial third term.
“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,” Mboulou said.
Official results put turnout at a high 72.4 percent, though Congolese opposition leader Clement Mierassa branded the claim “extremely scandalous”.
“It shows bad faith and dishonesty. The results were fixed,” said Mierassa, who heads the Congolese Social Democratic Party and is a leading member of an alliance that had called for a boycott of last Sunday’s referendum.
“From what we could see on the day of the vote, the announcement that turnout was more than 72 percent is extremely scandalous,” Mierassa told AFP, branding the results a “fraud”.
Another opposition leader had on Monday told AFP that only 10 percent of Congolese voted.
“The Congolese refused to vote,” said Pascal TsatyMabiala of the country’s biggest parliamentary opposition party, the UPADS.
The Congolese strongman served as president from 1979 until 1992. He then served as opposition leader and returned to power at the end of a brief civil war in 1997.
Source: The Al-Hajj