Incumbent Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has extended his 32 years in power, by winning presidential elections in the first round with 60 percent of the votes. Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso has won a new five-year term with 60.39 percent of the vote, the interior minister said on Thursday, extending his long rule over the oil-producing nation that first began in 1979.
Interior minister, Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou, announced the results on Thursday at 3:30am after a tense weekend poll held under a communications blackout to prevent opposition candidates from publishing their own “illegal results” results.
Opposition leader, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas had 15 percent of the vote and General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko came third with a little less than 14 percent.
Opposition leaders, however, have said they will not accept another win for the incumbent president. On Wednesday, the two opposition candidates rejected partial results released by the Republic of Congo’s electoral commission, which gave the country’s longtime ruler 67 percent of votes.
Sassou Nguesso hailed the victory at his campaign headquarters, saying the Congolese people had “taken their destiny into their own hands”, and that the campaign had produced a “very open” democratic debate in the former French colony.
The government has extended an order to shut down mobile phones and the internet to prevent unrest, until after the official results are announced. 72-year-old President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been ruling over the Oil and timber-rich Congo since 1979, and governed until 1992, when he lost an election, and then lived in Paris in exile from 1992 to 1997.
In 1997, the former paratrooper colonel regained power after a civil war and then won elections in 2002 and 2009 at which there were allegations of fraud. President Nguesso has been accused by critics of rampant corruption and nepotism and of stifling democracy.
The international community has since expressed concern over the fairness of the vote and called for the opposing sides to resolve their differences calmly, as the opposition candidates have 15 days from voting day to appeal the election results to the constitutional court.