The Congolese at the polls to decide on the future of Denis Sassou Nguesso ~ #AFP:

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Some 2.5 million voters are called to the polls on Sunday in Congo-Brazzaville where the indestructible outgoing president Denis Sassou Nguesso wants to be re-elected in the first round against six opponents who already question the transparency of the ballot.

“A blow, KO”, announced the campaign posters of the president-candidate, 77 years of which 36 in power, all in his desire to validate on Sunday a new mandate of five years. The former officer has already been re-elected three times since 2002.

During a campaign without incident, he unrolled his two priorities, youth and the development of agriculture, to break with the economy of oil rent and dependence on imports.

His main opponent, the historical opponent Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, created a surprise in a video released on Saturday.

“My dear compatriots, I am fighting against death, but nevertheless, I ask you to stand up. Go and vote for change. I will not have fought for nothing,” said Mr. Kolelas, bedridden, weakened, just after. have removed a respiratory assistance mask, which he puts back at the end of his message.

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso during his last campaign meeting in Brazzaville, March 19, 2021.

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso during his last campaign meeting in Brazzaville, March 19, 2021.

Tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday afternoon, Mr. Kolelas, 60, must be evacuated this Sunday, voting day, to France, according to his campaign manager, Cyr Mayanda.

The candidate’s message is dated Friday, the day he could not hold his last campaign rally in Brazzaville, AFP noted.

Several observers feared an Internet cut-off as soon as the polling stations opened at 7:00 a.m., as in 2016 during the violently contested re-election of “DSN”.

Another main opposition candidate, former Finance Minister Mathias Dzon, warned RFI that he would probably not accept the official results because “the current election commission is a partisan commission, which only predicts the candidate’s victory. to power “.

“The only uncertainty is what score Mr. Sassou will ask the allegedly independent Electoral Commission to attribute to him,” also quipped the famous Congolese novelist Emmanuel Dongala, contacted by AFP from his residence in the United States.

The opponents of the outgoing president have already denounced the early voting Thursday of members of the security forces (between 55 and 60,000), a source of potential fraud according to them.

The episcopal conference was denied accreditation of election observers at polling stations by the authorities.

A human rights activist, Alexandre Dzabana, was arrested ten days before the poll. There is evidence of his involvement in an attempt to destabilize institutions, according to the Ministry of Communication.

An RFI journalist, a specialist in the country since 2015, was also declared an undesirable person in Brazzaville to cover these elections.

“Reconnect with democracy”

In a statement by his spokesperson, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres “calls on all stakeholders to work for a peaceful electoral process”.

At the head of the post-electoral rebellion of 2016, Pastor Ntumi this year wanted the elections to take place “in peace, transparency and respect for the rules of the game”.

In his stronghold of Pool (south of Brazzaville), a 51-year-old man sighs while waiting for hours for a freight train in the hope of returning home, as a stowaway: “We want change. When he (editor’s note: Sassou Nguesso) came to power, I was ten years old “.

As with every election in Central Africa, voices call out to France, a former colonial power and the main donor. “The Congo, like French diplomacy, must reconnect with democracy,” alerted a French and Congolese collective.

Mr. Sassou Nguesso took power in 1979. He was defeated in the first pluralist elections in 1992 by Pascal Lissouba.

But this very rare example of peaceful alternation in Central Africa ended in 1997 with the return to power of Mr. Sassou Nguesso, after a civil war with the forces of Mr. Lissouba.

In 2015, he broke the constitutional lock that limited the number of presidential terms to two, before the post-election violence of March 2016.

Coming second five years ago, Mr. Kolelas pledged to release the two 2016 candidates sentenced in 2018 to 20 years in prison for “endangering state security”, General Jean-Marie Mokoko and André Okombi Salissa.

For years, power has also been talked about because of a resounding investigation in France. In 2017, relatives of the Congolese president were indicted there for “laundering of embezzlement of public funds” in the so-called “ill-gotten gains” case, which also targets the families in power in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

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Source: VOA-AFP.

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About AFP - Agence France Presse.

AGENCE PRANCE-PRESSE (AFP): is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Agence Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency. AFP has regional headquarters in Nicosia, Montevideo, Hong Kong, and Washington, D.C., and news bureaux in 151 countries in 201 locations.

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